Despite the indoor venue, the annual Thanksgiving Parade was a hit

The parade was held indoors. Wait, you say, indoors? Yes, the 34th Annual Mayfair-Holmesburg Parade, this year billed as the “Parade of Talent,” took place indoors, at the John Perzel Community Center on Sunday from noon until 4 p.m.

Rain or shine, folks were told, the parade would take place. Indoors? You’d hope so.

So what happened? Why hold a parade indoors? In earlier years when it rained, the parade was postponed. But, Sunday it wasn’t raining. It was a bright sunny day, all day. It would have been a wonderful day to be outdoors, watching a parade.

As an old friend used to quip, “It ain’t like it usta was.” There were no floats nor marching bands. The Lu Lu Shrine Temple motorcycle troop did not perform. The military reserve vehicles and classic cars were no where to be seen.

But, it wasn’t a bust and it certainly wasn’t a washout. There were bands playing, and kids danced and sang as parents and grandparents clapped enthusiastically. There were hot dogs and beverages, cookies, and filled-on-the-spot doughnuts. The little ones were awestruck by a variety of mascots –who, by the way, never speak yet somehow communicate with the kids.

The silent Klowns from Lu Lu Shrine Temple built hundreds of balloon animals and headgear for the younsters.
(The silent Klowns from Lu Lu Shrine Temple built hundreds of balloon animals and headgear for the younsters. )

Only one of the three Lu Lu Shrine Temple Klowns spoke, but all three rapidly twisted and knotted long, colorful balloons into headgear and poodle dogs. Early in the day, Santa brought Mrs. Claus and in a side room a seemingly endless line of kids waited patiently to sit on Santa’s lap and recite memorized lists of hoped-for gifts.

The adults didn’t want to wait for Santa to bring them what they wanted. Instead they opted for prizes from one of several raffles sponsored by participating organizations.

Give the organizers credit for keeping the 34-year tradition alive and uninterrupted. In the end, this year’s changes came as the result of unresolved financial issues. It’s not been a good year for the city and in its tenuous financial condition, it could no longer provide — at no cost — the police and sanitation services it had provided in earlier years.

According to other news reports,  the cost of services the city expected to be covered were never determined, but the organizers, having raised approximately $18,000 in donations from roughly three dozen businesses, were certain they’d be unable to meet the dollar shortfall.

Kids didn't seem to mind the indoor venue, which offered crafts like SandArt.
(Kids didn't seem to mind the indoor venue, which offered crafts like SandArt.)

Will the parade return to the Avenue next year? It’s too soon to tell. Organizers said they felt the indoor event would be, in its own way, just as good as the parade; they apparently didn’t want a smaller parade. Now, if you compare this year’s indoor event to what might have been a smaller parade option, maybe they’re right, but except for one adult polled, dozens of people expressed a preference for a “real” parade — smaller, if need be.

Parade or not, an event could not have been pulled off without the organizers. Gary Cozens, an insurance executive who is the volunteer secretary/treasurer for the Optimists of Mayfair is quoted several times in Kenny’s article. Cozens said organizers didn’t want to pull political strings to make the parade come off as it had in years past.

Well, everyone has a year to get their “marchers in a row,” so to speak. Given the circumstances (lack of money, timing, years of tradition, expectations, etc.),  if the smiles on the kids’ faces could be measured, this year’s indoor event went a long way to starting off this holiday season just right.

You can see more than 300 photos from the Parade of Talent and the tree lighting ceremony in our Holiday Extravaganza Slideshow.

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