Christmases to Remember ....

It’s hard to believe that the “Christmas to Remember” parade is now in its 15th year. I’m proud to say that our company, Snyder Communications, has been a driving force (along with numerous downtown merchants and other benefactors) behind this annual holiday tradition for a decade and a half. That’s due largely to the generosity of my boss, Dick Snyder, but perhaps more importantly to the unofficial parade marshal, our own Linda Green. How she manages to wrangle the scores of marching units, floats and firetrucks in this spectacle year after year (and moving along in order, and on time) is beyond me. I’d be remiss, of course, if I didn’t also mention the tireless efforts of the legions of volunteers who help pull it all off – it really is a community effort.

I’m also proud to say that I’ve been involved in the Christmas parade for each of its 15 years, too – although my participation has literally run the gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime. When the parade was in its infancy, and still held on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, my trusty Evening Sun staff and I went through the first few years serving as what Linda always referred to as “costumed characters.” Sounds good on paper – wear a fun, professional costume, walk down the street, and bask in the adoration of the crowd. After doing that once or twice, we quickly learned that what looks good on paper seldom is in practice.

My only stipulation during those early years was that I’d never wear a costume that required me to show my face. C-3PO, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – those fit the bill. To this day, Linda swears she thought my Tin Man costume from “The Wizard of Oz” would be a full head piece. On the contrary, it was a plastic funnel perched atop my pointy head. I was not amused. I’d like to issue a retroactive apology to all the kids from 1990-whatever-it-was who were scarred by memories of a homicidal-looking Tin Man. If I only had a heart ...

Of course, we also learned that it wasn’t always the costume’s fault. While my giant Rudolph head afforded me zero peripheral vision through tiny portholes a good half-foot above my own eyes, I was far better off than poor former reporter Karen Bergamo, whose cumbersome Frosty the Snowman costume led her to being rolled, literally, by a marauding group of kids scavenging for her candy. Frosty never did anything to you, kids. For shame.

For the last few years, The Evening Sun crew has endeavored to build a float for the competition, under the “Parade of Lights” nighttime theme. For 2008’s “Delivering Christmas” effort, the judges awarded us first place (I’d like to reiterate that we donated the majority of the prize money to Toys for Tots – and drank the rest). Like Olympic athletes who won the gold, we’ve decided to bow out gracefully this year and rest on our laurels while others vie for the prize. That, and the fact that we lost our “Float Nazi” (that’s a term of endearment, really), Jessica Lewis, who was the glue (and duct tape, spit and string) that held our little float together.

This Saturday night, we’ll be doing what we do best – being judgmental. We’re the media after all! Who better to serve as parade judges? I’ll also be posting some parade video to our Facebook page for those who might miss the action. If you haven’t already planned on it – do so. Saturday night, 6:30 p.m., downtown Norwich. It’s the perfect start to the holiday season and fun for the whole family. After 15 years, it’s certainly given me many Christmases to Remember.

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