It’s been more than a half century since the began marching its parade down Main Street.
And yet, in an age when such community-uniting events seem to no longer be in vogue, the parade still brings out nearly half the town, according to organizer Peter Thorndike.
“So many of the people who are lining the sides of the street, watching it, were in the parade themselves,” he said, “and they’re watching their kids. There’s a continuity there. It’s one of the few events in town where everyone’s brought together.”
The town will once again come together this Saturday, for the 51st annual Lions Club Holiday Parade.
Thorndike said the parade will be led by the MacGregor Pipe Band (bagpipe players), followed by three Mummers bands, the marching band, the Liberty Band, between eight to 10 floats, a Coast Guard boat, several antique cars, the Moorestown , Miss Senior New Jersey, Stoney the Kissing Llama (courtesy of Cozy Acres Farm in Waterford, NJ), and, of course, Santa himself.
The parade begins its route at noon at Chester and Central avenues, makes its way up Chester to Main Street, then down the length of Main Street to Church Street, where the judges will be stationed to pick the top three winners each in two categories: marching groups and floats. The results will be posted at the within an hour after the parade ends, Thorndike said.
The parade features about 750 participants, he said, and lasts between an hour to an hour and a half.
The weather Saturday is expected to be parade-friendly (mostly sunny, high of 48, 10 percent chance of precipitation, according to The Weather Channel) and that “makes all the difference,” according to Thorndike.
“On a good day, we will get at least half the township or more,” said Rudy Jones, who handles marketing for the Lions Club. “And then you have people from out of town.”
Jones' explanation of the parade's continued popularity was fairly simple: "It's really geared to the whole community ... Everybody walks away feeling good."
The parade is made possible through business sponsorships, as well as the tireless efforts of its members. Thorndike said he keeps himself busy planning the parade, but the day of he hands off the keys to his fellow club members.
“This parade occurs because of the efforts of everyone in the Lions Club … It’s not because of any one person,” he said. “These guys are out there, freezing, doing all the work.”
Following the parade, Santa Claus will stop by for pictures.
Several other festive events are scheduled after the parade Saturday, including:
- Santa’s a busy guy, as he’ll also make an appearance at the on Chester Avenue immediately following the parade. The fire company will provide hot dogs, soda and hot chocolate at the free event and children can have their pictures taken with Santa on a 1922 Ahern’s Fox Fire Truck.
- will hold their at the after the parade, featuring selected pieces of art from Moorestown schools. The art show runs from 1-4 p.m. on the third floor of the rec building. Admission is free.
- The will hold two performances of at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the .
- At 7 p.m., will host “” with DJ Jerry Blavat at . Tickets are $50.
- At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, will host the West Jersey Chamber Symphony & Chorale presenting George Frideric Handel’s oratorio, “The Messiah.” Tickets are $20 ($15 for seniors, $10 for students). For more information, call 856-778-1899.