By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Dec. 6, 2018) More than 80 floats will compete for awards in 10 categories during the annual Berlin Christmas Parade, today, Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m.
Participants will travel north on Main Street, through the downtown area and end at the Berlin Fire Company.
New this year are trophies in each category made by local artist Jordan Pippin of Steel N Glory.
“Historically, we’ve used the same trophies for many years,” Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells said. “This year, we decided to have one of our local artists design the trophy, and we’ll have two in each category for winner and runner up.”
Categories include best marching group, school-sponsored float, fire company, and antique vehicle.
Also new this year, there will be a handicapped-access viewing area near the judging station in front of the Atlantic Hotel.
While the parade in Ocean City can seem massive, spanning more than 10 city blocks, Wells said the Berlin parade tends to be more intimate. The parade route will maintain the northbound direction begun last year. Wells said town personnel and volunteers would help ensure participants march the entire parade route.
“Some people left earlier last year, so this way they know that they have to keep marching.” she said. “And Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on the fire truck again this year [at the end].”
Another addition this year is Allison Early, hired in September to take over for Sharon Timmons as the economic development administrative assistant. Timmons was given the job of organizing the parade.
“It feels good, because I’ve been going to this parade my entire life, so it’s cool to help put it together,” Early said. “It’s been so cool to organize it and to help be a part of it.”
She said she was surprised to learn how much variety there is in terms of participants.
“I don’t normally hang around the stage, but now I realize how many categories there are and how important it is to everybody, and everybody’s in a category,” Early said. “It’s a lot of fun.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everybody’s floats,” she continued. “I’ve actually heard really cool things about certain ones, so I’m excited to see that and see who wins.”
Wells said the parade was an enormous draw, pulling in thousands of spectators each year.
“From my experience with this parade, people look forward to this all year,” Wells said. “We start getting calls in the summer asking, ‘please can we be in the parade?’
“It’s a magical night. People reconnect, and it shows a true sense of community and family,” she continued. “And the kids — when you watch their faces as the floats go by, they’re in complete awe and they love it. And it’s just fun!”