By Eugenia Moskowitz
Thousands of parade goers in Washingtonville were “who-bilated” to attend the ninth annual Christmas Firetruck Parade and the second annual daytime celebration Whoville.
The green eggs and ham were flying off the griddle at Betty’s Country Kitchen all morning as scores of children and families enjoyed a very Grinch-y breakfast, complete with visits from the Grinch himself. Washingtonville — alias Whoville for the duration — hosted many events in the center of the village at both businesses and public venues, all orchestrated by Washingtonville Community Events Council merry-makers Rebecca Akers, Martha Barrera, Jenny B., Denni Lozza, and Maaike Wiegman-Leavey, with help from Mayor Joe Bucco (a.k.a., Augustus Maywho) and the Village Board, all under the watchful eye of Washingtonville and Blooming Grove Police Departments.
Fun activities for adults and kids throughout the day abounded: Who-liday hairdos at Hello Salon, ornament painting at Washingtonville High School, storytime and open house at Moffat Library, crafts with Cindy-Lou Who at Nailed It Hardware, stories read by Washingtonville elementary school teachers Kerilee Berben, Bobbi-Jo Grausso, Lindsay Maguire, and Lori Brennan at the Jenny Beez Honey Shop, and Irish cream tastings at Hennessy’s Wine and Liquor.
At 3:00 the Who-bilation started at Veterans Memorial Park on West Main Street with crafts, vendors, food, and live music by The Vibe. Also new this year was a living Nativity scene at The Lot by children who will be performing in the St. Mary’s Catholic Church Christmas Pageant on Dec. 14, with Bethlehem costumes worn over thick down coats as the temperatures throughout the day dropped colder than usual this year.
At 6:00, the Blooming Grove/Washingtonville Chamber of Commerce Christmas parade kicked off from Vern Allen Park, heading towards McLaughlin Square in the center of the village. The first part of the parade routewas a designated “quiet zone” where parade chairman and Hudson Valley Hot Rods president Paulie Niemann recommended that sirens and horns not be blasted, so that children who needed a somewhat quieter experience could enjoy the sight of the brightly lit firetrucks. Niemann asked that the second part of the parade route be open to as much noise as the vehicles’ drivers would like. The Moffat Library’s spacious lobby and community room were available for people to warm up, have hot chocolate and coffee, and enjoy the parade from inside. The “tone down the sirens” idea seemed to work fine, with more vehicles and fire companies taking part than ever before. While the pacer horses were absent at this parade, the endless stream of beautifully illuminated firetrucks did not disappoint. The honking sirens were present but not deafening, many small children were about, and one parade goer remarked, “It’s nice to actually be able to hear people talk.” There was even a marriage proposal with a “marry me” banner unfurled on a firetruck. (Editor’s note: She said yes!) People were courteous, cars obeyed the detours, and police officers said they had no real issues keeping the public safe along the parade route. A mix of old and new holiday music was played at the base of the tree. Some parents commented that next year there should be a few authentic Christmas carols thrown in, it being Christmas after all. But on the whole, festive merriment and “good will toward man” ran high at a very well-planned and successful event. Even the over-spill of hot cocoa cups and pizza boxes were stacked as neatly as possible atop the public garbage receptacles. Now that’s community.
The parade culminated at the center of the village with Santa waving from the top of Monell’s ladder truck, and with his merry band of fireman elves in attendance, on the count of ten he flipped the switch and the Christmas tree in the center of the village lit up to great applause. It will remain lighted until mid-January.
The next event in the center of the village will be the Washingtonville Run for Fun group’s Hot Chocolate 5K on Feb. 2.
CAPTION 1: The Christmas Tree was lit in the center of Washingtonville at the culmination of the parade. (Photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)
CAPTION 2: The Bates family was one of many who enjoyed a Grinch breakfast. (Photo provided)
CAPTION 3: South Blooming Grove’s giant candy cane rolled into the village. (Photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)
CAPTIONS 4, 5, 6: The illuminated firetrucks lit up Main Street. (Photos by Jessica Nardo)
CAPTION 7: Children played under the Christmas tree. (Photo by Maureen Finnerty)
CAPTION 8: Mayor Joe Bucco — a.k.a. Augustus Maywho — greeted two little Whoville creatures at the Whobilation. (Photo by Maureen Finnerty)
CAPTION 9: Teacher Kerilee Berben (with fellow teachers in the background) read to children at the Jenny Beez Honey Shop inside Nailed It Hardware. (Photo provided)