Wednesday, 28 November 2012 14:50

Dundalk begins the holiday season with the Christmas parade and other activities.
file photo

Parade kicks off DRC’s Holiday Hoopla

by Ben Boehl

    The holiday season returns to Dundalk, as the Dundalk Christmas Parade will kick off local holiday festivities on Saturday, Dec. 1.    
    The parade will start at 4 p.m. and will be followed by events sponsored by the Dundalk Renaissance Corp. [DRC]. The parade is in its 15th year and is organized by Alan Holcomb of Dundalk-Eastfield Recreation Council.
    “This got started when Bruce Mills (former rec. council president) decided if Macy’s can have a Christmas parade, then Dundalk can have a Christmas parade,” Holcomb said. Mills died in 2007.
    Even though the Christmas parade doesn’t get as much attention as the Dundalk Heritage Parade on Independence Day, Holcomb has noticed that the parade has grown in popularity over the past years.
    Scheduled participants include the motorcycle and antique car clubs, floats from Chick-fil-A, the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society, the American Legion and many more. It starts off with the fire engines from the Wise Avenue and the North Point-Edgemere volunteer fire departments.
    “Once people come down and are a part of this, they usually want to come back,” Holcomb said.
    Although the parade is only a few days away, it is still not too late to enter.
    “We believe that if you can make it down here at the last minute, you will be fine,” Holcomb added.
    While Holcomb is the organizer, he said putting the parade together is the result of many volunteers in the community.    
    He credits Rob and Barb Fisher from the football program at his rec council. He also credits Josephine Mills [Bruce’s widow] for helping set up the display with Ms. Claus. Angel Ball helps with the entertainment. Eric Davis helps with electrical. He acknowledges Debbie Fetchik and many others.
    “This is not done by myself at all; this is definitely a community effort,” Holcomb said. “It’s all about the community coming together, and without those people none of this would be possible.”
    The parade is part of the event marketed by the DRC as the Holiday Hoopla & Cookie Tour.
    “We teamed up with the DRC so we can make this a great thing for Dundalk,” Holcomb noted.
    After the parade is over, everyone is invited to meet Santa and Ms. Claus in Heritage Park. Local entertainment will be provided along with food and vendors.
    Then the DRC will hold its Main Street Cookie Tour, which will provide cookies and hot chocolate.
    Leah Bunck, Community Projects Coordinator at the DRC, said the Holiday Hoopla is the place to be if a person enjoys cookies. A contest will be held where bakers will be judged on their cookies.
    For those who just like to eat and not bake, a few thousand free cookies will be available to the public.
    Last year, about 3,600 cookies were given to the businesses around the Dundalk Village Shopping Center, and the DRC hopes to have more this year at those businesses where DRC “elves” will pass them out.
    “This is a way to get more businesses involved and a great way to get people into their doors,” Bunck said.
    Another attraction will be a 6-by-10-foot gingerbread house that was created by teacher Nancy Yetter and her Dundalk High School class. The U.S. Marines will also be collecting unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots.
    Diane Lesman, Marketing and Development Coordinator at the DRC, said that before the events start, the DRC wants to make a street sweep of the area and is asking for volunteers to come out between 1 and 3 p.m. to pick up trash.
    “I could see this as an intergenerational event, as adults can work with kids that know that trash goes into the trash can,” Lesman added.
    From a marketing perspective, Lesman said, it was nice to merge all the holiday events into one package.
    “Holiday Hoopla encompasses the parade, the (Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society) train garden, Santa in the Park, the Girl Scouts singing Christmas carols and all the (holiday) events,” Lesman said.
    Bunck agreed and added that it would not be possible to coordinate these events without the cooperation of Holcomb and the Eastfield Recreation Council and the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society.    
    Instead of each group doing its own event and competing with each other at the same time, the groups have agreed to schedule their events to accommodate each other.
    “It’s been really great  to work with everyone. We meet with Alan and the Historical Society so we are all on the same page,” Bunck said. “It’s been a really nice collective effort.”
    For more information about the event, visit the DRC website, www.dundalkusa.org.