By Eugenia Moskowitz
Since its start five years ago in 2011, just four months after a major flood hit the Washingtonville business district that August, the Annual Christmas Parade through the heart of the village is now growing.
After the financial and emotional devastation both Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused the Washingtonville community, townspeople felt a despondency Blooming Grove Chamber of Commerce president Rick Lewis, at the time a chamber board member, couldn’t bear to see.
In the years prior to 2011, he had spoken to Tom DeVinko, then-mayor of Washingtonville, about a Christmas parade with lit up fire trucks slowly rolling down Main Street in addition to the traditional tree-lighting ceremony and refreshments at village hall, but nothing had ever come of it. Then the flood hit, and Lewis knew the time had come.
“There was unprecedented damage in and around Washingtonville,” Lewis said. “We had taken a punch that would be difficult to recover from. Our town needed something happy, a Christmas parade in addition to the tree-lighting. We had the full support of the village board to organize the first Christmas Parade in December of 2011. And we never looked back.”
This year marks the fifth annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony, complete with a visit from Santa and his firefighter elves atop the Washingtonville Fire Department ladder truck. And because the parade is growing with more fire trucks from different area fire departments than ever before, and more pre-parade festivities from local businesses (such as free hot cocoa from Betty’s Country Kitchen) in the center square, Lewis is hoping even more groups and organizations will join the fun.
On December 5, parade vehicles will assemble at 5 p.m. at Vern Allen Park at Ahern Boulevard and Route 94 and at 6 p.m. they’ll wend their way along Main Street with Santa bringing up the rear, ending at 7 p.m. at the tree-lighting event by the big blue spruce at E.J. McLaughlin Square in the center of Washingtonville.
For the complete story see the Nov. 20 edition of the Orange County Post.