BERLIN –Planning and organizational responsibilities of the town’s annual Christmas parade are being handed to Berlin administration this year, who are working in concert with the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and other downtown establishments to stage the event.
To be held Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m., a press release from Town Hall announced Berlin’s involvement with the 42nd annual parade, which signifies that the previous organizer, the Berlin Lions Club, is no longer in charge.
"The town of Berlin has assumed control of the parade this year," said Michael Day, economic & community development director of Berlin, when asked to confirm the town’s involvement.
When the event began in the 1970s, it was originally managed by Berlin, but the Berlin Lions Club gained control for about 25 years until handing it back over to the town this year.
Rick Holland of Berlin Lion’s Club told the town that the organization no longer has the capacity to organize the parade.
Officially organized by the Main Street Berlin organization headed by Day and Terri Sexton, also owner of The Treasure Chest, everything remains the same at this year’s event, save for the elimination of one common tradition of those who would pass by in their floats.
Candy and other items are no longer allowed to be thrown into the crowd and if anyone on a float does so, they will not be invited back to the parade next year.
"We did this as a safety concern to keep the children off the street," said Sharon Timmons, administrative assistant of Berlin.
Timmons said children are in harm’s way of floats driving on the road and it is also not uncommon to see children push and shove each other to grab treats and various trinkets.
As eight participants have already registered their spots in the parade, 72 openings are left for those who wish to travel down Main Street with hundreds of spectators cheering on from the side.
Each entry will be separated into one of 15 different categories.
Floats are separated into those who are from adult non-profit organizations, youth nonprofit entities and schools.
Car and truck clubs are separated from motorcycle organizations and antique vehicles are in their own category, as well.
School marching bands, youth marching units, adult marching units, and ROTC marching units have all been separated into separate divisions.
Crowned youth, meaning children who have won awards such as the Little Miss & Mister Berlin Peach pageant are separated from the remaining category for children, youth performers.
Volunteer fire companies, commercial organizations and equestrian participants round out the rest of the possible entries.
All participants are encouraged to design their entries to reflect this year’s theme of "Berlin’s Home Town Christmas."
There are no restrictions to the design of floats or other entries other than the fact that no Santa impostors are allowed to walk down the street, as the traditional main attraction will be awaiting at the end of the parade, sitting atop a Berlin Fire Company fire engine.
Only commercial units must pay a $20 entry fee, and forms must be submitted by Friday, Nov. 21.
A panel of judges will rate each entry into the parade and trophies will be awarded to the top three participants of each category.
School bands, however, could earn a donation to take care of travel expenses in addition to a trophy.
The top performing high school bands will earn $200, $150, $100 donations for first, second and third place, respectively.
All middle school bands will also receive a $175 donation from the town.
While the town is not confirmed to put on subsequent Christmas parades, officials are putting their full effort to ensure this year’s event is successful as any other town happening.
"With the help of merchants and others around town, I can see Berlin running the parade for years," Timmons said.
Entry forms can be found on the town’s website, http://berlinmd.gov. For additional information, call JoAnn Unger at 410-641-3858 or Timmons at 410-629-1716.