Washingtonville Christmas Parade a Who-bilation!
By Eugenia Moskowitz
“Washingtonville knocked it out of the park again,” said a breakfast patron at Betty’s Country Kitchen as her child scarfed down green eggs and ham and roast beast and greeted the Grinch at the morning kickoff to the Whoville “Who-bilation,” the events surrounding the 8th Annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting in the village of Washingtonville on Dec. 1.
Clove Acres Carriage Rides- Photo by Eugenia Moskowitz
The Grinch, who had been making appearances at local schools and businesses during the past few weeks — short videos of which had been posted to social media to an ever-growing following — visited the children’s breakfast with mayhem as they tried to make his shrunken heart grow with Christmas spirit.
Center of the Village – Photo by Derek Robertson
Washingtonville Events Council members Rebecca Akers, Martha Barrera, Denni Lozza, Lindsay Mitchell, Maaike Wiegman-Leavey, and Erika Snell (with help from Washingtonville “Burgermeister” Joe Bucco in red cape, bushy eyebrows, and a wig) brainstormed the Who-bilation by weaving together the roster of holiday happenings at local businesses and schools — such as the National Art Honor Society’s ornament painting event at Washingtonville High School, snowflake craft at Stop and Shop, story hour with the Grinch at Moffat Library, eggnog at Hennessy’s Wine and Liquor (21-and-over Who-dentification required), and wreath and ornament making at Nailed It Hardware and the Art Cottage — with the main event held that afternoon at the municipal lot on West Main Street.
Festivities throughout the day – Photo by Eugenia Moskowitz
Ringed by potted pines turned into Whoville trees by the children, every inch of the lot was taken up with holiday craft vendors, so many that Maaike Wiegman-Leavey said she had to turn away vendors who were begging to be included. This will be considered when she and the team evolve the 2019 Farmers and Artisans Market. Families crowded and bustled among the stalls selecting handcrafted wares from craftspeople who, when asked, said they did “very well.”
One family with three children said they drove for an hour and were delighted with everything their kids experienced. The growth of Washingtonville’s large seasonal family events means Washingtonville is now drawing people from as far away as the New York City, those familiar with the growth of these events said. This in turn puts local real estate and the Washingtonville Central School District on the map when young couples decide to relocate out of the city to the Hudson Valley for a more wholesome way of life.
And wholesome it was, as the sounds of Who-caroling by girl scouts and school children wafted the Village, twinkling with fairy lights as dusk fell. Children enjoyed food trucks serving hot dogs, chocolate-dipped fruit, and hot cocoa, while families had photos with the Grinch taken by Denni Lozza against a Who backdrop built by local resident and DeckScapes owner Ken Kroog. Like its seasonal counterparts, Witchingtonville and the Wabbitville Easter Egg Hunt, the entire event was free, including the professional-grade keepsake photos, but donations were accepted and parents gladly paid. All the proceeds for each seasonal event go back into the pot for next year. “We like attracting parents by not charging an admission fee,” Wiegman-Leavey said. “It’s an interesting business model as, paradoxically, we are doing very well fiscally and growing the events.”
The Washingtonville Police Department was in on the fun as officers finally caught the Grinch at nightfall, handcuffed him, and took him away to the parade starting line, where the vehicles were lining up.
Mayor Bucco said that, for outsiders, “Events like these highlight what we have, and for locals it highlights who we are.” One parent of a child busily writing a letter to Santa and mailing it in a bright North Pole mailbox said, “This builds a sense of community, like when I was a kid.” Could she explain? “What this event has done,” she said, “by teaming up schools, businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, and Moffat Library, is it’s wrapped together the village into a great big Christmas present tied with a huge bow. It’s the village’s gift to itself and its residents.” Another parent standing alongside her said simply, “This is huge for our town.”
Mayor Bucco and the Grinch enjoy
breakfast at Betty’s – Photo provided
Indeed it was, as by 6:00 p.m. people had poured into the village and were thickly lining Main Street from Vern Allen Park to the high school for the Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting. Paced off by a horse-drawn wagon from Clove Stables, Mayor Bucco, the Grinch (whose heart had now grown), and an assortment of Whos with tall hair-dos rode in a twirling pattern along the parade route, followed by gaily decorated vehicles of all kinds bearing masses of children and parents. Finished off by the anticipated series of illuminated fire trucks that make the event known by its alternate name “the Firetruck Parade” and brought up in the rear by Santa atop the Monell Ladder Truck, the parade culminated with children joining a countdown and Santa throwing the switch to light up the Christmas tree in the center of the village.
See this week’s Orange County Post for lots more Christmas Parade pictures and other great stories.