BERLIN —The Christmas season kicked off on last week with the 41st annual Berlin Christmas Parade. As usual, it demonstrated "great small town charm," according to spectator Glenn Irwin. Dozens of colorful and festive floats proceeded along Main Street to bring the Christmas spirit to hundreds of spectators.
Wayne Cannon, who works at radio station 92.7 WGMD, was the event’s emcee. He began the ceremony by introducing the judges and thanking the Berlin Lions Club for sponsoring the event with help from the Berlin Volunteer Fire Company. Following his announcement, Gail West, chairperson, dedicated the parade to members of the United States Military as well as to police officers and their families.
The five judges chosen to oversee the parade were Steve Hales, Worcester County’s Clerk of Court; Bill Shockley, orphan’s court judge; Charlotte Cathell, register of wills; Lou Taylor, principal of Stephen Decatur High School; and Dale Smack, chief deputy of the Worcester County sheriffs’ office.
One of the most popular participants of the parade was Mayor Gee Williams, who rode past the crowd in a horse drawn carriage early in the schedule. He elicited an enthusiastic response filled with cheering and applause. Several members of the Berlin Lion’s Club, led by King Lion Bill Owens, made an appearance near the beginning of the parade also. This included the Leo Club, consisting of younger members of the community. All are proud to have sponsored such a cheerful and enjoyable event.
Fire departments from towns from all over the region contributed as well, driving trucks down the street with flashing lights and decorations. Those of Berlin, Newark, Willards, Snow Hill, Bishopville, Girdletree, Pocomoke, and Powellville were among the participating companies. The latter also included in their demonstration a solemn yet patriotic float dedicated to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack.
Local schools got into the holiday spirit as well, designing elaborate floats filled with children and winter scenes. Buckingham Elementary school, for example, used a Charlie Brown theme. Well known characters such as Snoopy, Lucy, and Charlie’s famous Christmas tree were included to the excitement of the crowd. Showell Elementary also designed a Charlie Brown-themed float, although this one included Snoopy’s flying doghouse with a "We wish you a Merry Christmas" banner. The students of Berlin Intermediate School, on the other hand, titled their float "Santa’s Bakery." Dressing as elves, gingerbread cookies, and trees, they sang "We are Santa’s Elves," while "baking" cookies on a line of colorful ovens. Finally, Ocean City Elementary School created their own float displaying the classic winter setting of a cozy, festive house surrounded by children playing in the snow.
High school students also considered the parade a chance to show their skills to the community.
The Marching Seahawks from Stephen Decatur High School, a talented group of 70 students, performed an excellent rendition of "Let it Snow." Pocomoke High School’s Marching Warriors, who have also received outstanding reviews, played for the crowd a medley of Christmas favorites. Snow Hill was well represented with the Marching Eagles, which has achieved nationwide recognition with 114 victories over a 25 year period. These devoted musicians performed "A Faithful Christmas." Stephen Decatur’s Show Choir was also spotted dancing and singing the timeless Christmas favorite "Santa Baby." Dressed in vibrant holiday outfits, these gifted students presented an animated interpretation of a classic song. Stephen Decatur’s Naval ROTC, as well as the Marine Corps ROTC of Pocomoke High School and the Marine Corps Jr. ROTC of Snow Hill High School, amazed the crowd with impressive rifle demonstrations.
Finally, Worcester Technical High School entered several marching units in the parade, each with a different purpose. One unit carried the Skills USA banner, which grants students leadership positions and the opportunity to compete with others whose studies follow a similar path. The Future Business Leaders of America followed, with the scholars in the Skilled Trades Program and the Future Farmers of America close behind. Each is a local chapter in a larger organization designed to encourage the trades and abilities that are essential for the growth of both America and its youth.
Children’s clubs in the community, such as Boy Scout pack #275, Girl Scout troops #835 and #329, OC Stars, He Reigns Youth Ministry Friendship, Assateague Coast Kids, and the Eastern Shore Karate Academy, marched along with the larger floats to spread news of their activities around Delmarva.
Churches were well represented as well, reminding all of the "reason for the season." Son Rise Church was among the first with an inspiring Nativity float. The River Church of the Nazarene gave this traditional take on Christmas a twist, however, whose float pictured a storyteller reading the story of the first Christmas to a group of eager children. Alternatively, Stevenson United Methodist Church designed their entry based on a "Keep Christ in Christmas" theme."
The parade ended, as usual, with a jolly Santa passing by on a fire truck. Spectators, especially children, were thrilled to finally get a glimpse of the "big man in red." As always, the true success of the event lay in the wonderful memories it created for the local community and the exciting beginning of the Christmas season.