Mother Nature must be friends with Santa on Facebook, because she is “liking” tonight’s 10th annual Johnstown Holiday Parade.
The weather appears to be on track to making the parade a pleasant evening. The National Weather Service in Albany is forecasting a clear, calm night with the temperature hovering around 25 degrees.
The parade begins at 7 p.m. from West Madison Avenue, near the Wells Nursing Home, and moves along South Melcher Street to Main Street and ends at South Chase Street, a total of 11⁄2 miles. Still, even if the weather were not so pleasant, the parade would go on, said parade marshal Karen Coppola.
“Rain, shine, sleet, it doesn’t matter, we go on. The first year was a blizzard. I will never forget that year,” she said.
More than 60 groups are participating in tonight’s parade, ranging from dance crews to fire departments. Santa Claus will make an appearance, and his elves will distribute 5,000 bags of candy to children in the crowd.
Last year’s parade drew more than 1,000 people. This year’s theme is “Charlie Brown and Characters” and “Winter Wonderland.” The Daily Gazette is a corporate sponsor.
Coppola encouraged people to come to downtown Johnstown in the early afternoon to patronize vendors operating in Sir William Johnson Park. They will be offering hand-crafted jewelry, hand-knitted gloves and food.
“I hope people support the vendors and people in the park. Vendors will be setting up around noon and will be ready to sell around 1 or 2 p.m.,” she said. “People can buy some stuff and come back later. They can join us for lunch in the park, and they could come back for dinner.”
Coppola said some of the proceeds from food sales in the park will help support the parade’s continued operations.
“During the parade, we will be able to collect a few more bucks. If people donate a dollar, we could really make it,” she said.
The parade depends on donations and volunteers to succeed; the city does not provide direct financial support but does provide a firefighter and police presence along the route.
Donations for the parade were coming in slowly for this year’s parade. Earlier this week, Coppola had collected only $60 to help cover the $1,800 cost to stage the parade. Then three anonymous donors each contributed $500.
“This is the first time for them to donate. They heard the appeal. We are still a few hundred shy, but we have enough to cover most of the cost,” she said.
The donors want to remain anonymous for their own reasons, she said.
“No one wants to be named. They don’t want to be bothered about donating,” she said.
In their notes to her, they said: “This is for the holiday parade. We appreciate all your efforts and please don’t advertise our name.”
Coppola is also counting on community support to help after the parade is over. She is looking for space to store three trailers and boxes containing decorations for floats. She currently stores the boxes on the third floor of her shop. She said she can be reached at 424-1796.
As for next year, there will be a parade, Coppola said. The event has become a tradition in the area and continues to bring joy to people.
“The most satisfying experience for me is seeing the elderly people from the nursing home and the kids smiling and dancing. They really enjoy it,” she said.