By KRISTEN BOERKE
The community of Washingtonville came together on Saturday, December 2nd to celebrate the holidays in a spirited fashion. People of all ages came to the center of town wide-eyed and excited to participate in the festivities. Whether supporting businesses or the community by purchasing or selling items at the “Christmas in the Village” or simply watching the parade, all who attended can agree that the event was an enormous success.
|KRISTEN BOERKE FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY|
The parade did not always take place here in the Village of Washingtonville, according to the Washingtonville/Blooming Grove Chamber of Commerce. In fact, prior to 2011, the village had only a quaint tree lighting ceremony followed by refreshments at Village Hall. However, in 2011 Hurricane Irene hit and the village and surrounding towns experienced major destruction and devastation.
After this horrific disaster, the town and community needed to come up with a plan to pick up the pieces and get the town up and running once again. The former Chamber President, Rick Lewis, went to the then mayor, Tom DeVinko, and suggested, “This is the year; we need to have a Christmas Parade. The residents need something to take their minds off the devastation, even if it’s just for one night.” Hence, the Christmas Parade was born. In December of 2011, the first ever Christmas Parade in Washingtonville took place and, to the delight of all it’s residents, continues to be an annual tradition.
This year was the 7th annual Washingtonville Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony. According to Kevin Radday, owner of Betty’s Country Kitchen, it was unlike any other-- “Betty’s always takes a major part in the parade. We look forward to it every year.” Betty’s made a significant impact on the success of the event as they provided live music on their front porch to “add to the holiday theme.” Also stationed on the porch were elves who passed out free hot chocolate with marshmallows, graham cracker crumbles and whipped cream.
Mr. Radday exclaimed that his favorite part of the event is always “seeing all the families that come here to Betty’s watching the parade. It really lights up the kids’ faces to see the firetrucks and the cars go by. The best part is probably the Betty’s families that I’ve become friends with over the past three and a half years that come in and enjoy the parade with my business.”
Across the street in the municipal parking lot was “Christmas in the Village” where many vendors sold various items while spreading holiday cheer. From 3-6 pm, community members set up their stations and showcased or sold their goods. One of these vendors was Washingtonville High School’s very own National Art Honor Society.
Mrs. Held, who is in charge of NAHS stated, “This fall, NAHS students have been hard at work making hand crafted ceramic jewelry and holiday ornaments to help raise money for our NAHS chapter.” She went on to say, “Mrs. Laudato, along with several NAHS members, set up the table from 2-3 pm with over 100 individual items: ceramic earrings, necklaces and ornaments. From 3-6 pm various NAHS members, along with Mrs. Laudato and myself, greeted community members who visited our table and made purchases.” The National Art Honor Society did very well during this event, selling close to half their inventory and raising over $320.
It was finally time for the main event: the parade followed by the tree lighting ceremony. The parade gave the village a sense of community as firetrucks from neighboring towns, as well as our own, decked themselves out in lights and sounded their alarms. Many cars, companies, and teams paraded down main street waving to the thousands of spectators.
Kate Rocke, a senior at Washingtonville High School was a part of the parade with the Washingtonville Little League. Kate recalls, “The atmosphere was crazy. There were so many people by the time we hit the center of town. People were cheering so loud and, from where I was, it looked like thousands of people came out.” Rocke's favorite part of the parade was making the kids’ nights as she waved back to them saying, “Merry Christmas,” and seeing their faces light up. “It makes you feel so good,” Kate expressed.
Overall, The Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony united Washingtonville and got everyone into the Christmas spirit. The successful event will continue to be a tradition for years to come. The community can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!