Berlin’s extraordinary holiday procession draws huge crowds and will again tonight for its 50th anniversary
By Greg Ellison
(Dec. 2, 2021) Billed as the “largest holiday parade on the Eastern Shore,” Berlin’s 50th annual Christmas Parade will wind its way down Main Street tonight beginning at 7 p.m.
Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells said spectators will be treated to more than 80 floats, dance teams, marching bands and fire companies, culminating with the arrival of Santa.
“It’s the golden anniversary of the parade so there’s going to be a lot of golden-themed floats,” she said.
Wells said the judges’ stand will be situated toward the north end of the parade route, much the same as it was in 2019.
“The last parade was the first time we had moved the judging stage down to Baker and West [streets] and it worked out well, so we’re doing that again this year,” she said.
Starting at 7 p.m. from the Berlin Welcome Center, parade floats and participants will head north up Main Street and wind up at the Berlin Fire Company.
Wells said many parade enthusiasts don’t realize the event involves two sets of judges.
“There’s the official band judges, which actually come all the way from Pennsylvania to judge the band, then we have our local judges for the rest of the parade,” she said.
Local judges are Shenanigan’s Irish Pub owner Greg Shockley, Worcester County Public Schools Superintendent Lou Taylor, Elaine Brady, who recently retired as Bayside Gazette publisher, retired Berlin mailman James Tingle, and newcomer Gregory Purnell.
Floats will be judged in four categories: children’s themed, commercial entities, nonprofit agencies and fire companies.
The return of the Christmas Parade this year will have one notable difference.
“Big Al Reno is the emcee, taking over for Wayne Cannon, who passed away this year,” she said.
Wells said Cannon had handled parade announcement duties as long as anyone could recall.
“He’s always been the guy,” she said.
Due to overflow crowds, remote parking and shuttle service will be available at Berlin Intermediate School.
“Come out, come early and enjoy,” she said. “Bring a chair and have a seat.”
Wells said after the annual holiday extravaganza was shut down in 2020 because of covid-19, organizers are anticipating record attendance this year.
“There’s going to be so many people there this year, because it was cancelled last year,” she said. “Plus the weather looks warm [and] that will bring more people out.”