Parade Of Lights Hitting Broad Street This Saturday
Published: November 26th, 2021
By: Sarah Genter

Parade of Lights hitting Broad Street this Saturday Left, The two 2019 Parade of Lights emcees, including announcer and parade patron, Publisher Dick Snyder. For the past decades volunteers and organizers, including many employees of the Pennysaver and Evening Sun, have hosted the annual holiday Parade of Lights thanks to the support of community sponsors. Right, long-time Pennysaver employee and volunteer organizer Mike McCormack, who was one of the many who dedicated dozens of hours every year to putting on the parade. (Photos by Tyler Murphy)

NORWICH — The holiday season kicks off this Saturday with the return of the annual Parade of Lights. The parade, which marches down Broad Street, is set to begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 27.

"There is going to be a Parade of Lights this year, how exciting is that?" said Business Improvement District (BID) Board Member Mindy Chawgo. "There was not one last year. It takes a full year to plan, so I'm really pulling this out of my back pocket."

Despite the shorter than usual planning time, Chawgo reported the parade already has upwards of 50 participants. In addition to the multitude of floats, spectators can also enjoy coffee and hot chocolate provided by area vendors, and visit Santa in his igloo after the parade.

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"Different vendors will be open a little bit later during the parade to serve cocoa and coffee," said Chawgo. "And then Santa will be the end, and he'll get dropped off in his igloo so that everybody can get a picture with Santa."

Chobani will also be holding their case giveaway in East Park after the parade.

"They give away a case of yogurt to every person. So they'll set up on the whole stage, and they'll line the stage with their cases of Chobani, and they'll do their case giveaway right after the parade. So you'll see a line from the stage around the park, going down the main road. It's great, people love it. They're so generous," said Chawgo. "And this ends the parade. So Santa Claus will come through at the very end, and he'll get in his igloo, and Chobani will do their case giveaway, and that completes the night."

The Parade of Lights has been a community staple for several decades since it's inception, estimated to be in the early 1980's, according to the Pennysaver and Evening Sun Publisher Richard Snyder.

"Unfortunately, I don't really remember exactly the year the parade started, probably in the early 80's. But at first it was the Pennysaver, the radio station, and the Evening Sun working in cooperation with the Norwich Merchants Association to make it happen. We didn't own the Sun at the time so it was basically the three media sources in the area that committed to plan and promote the event," Snyder explained.

Over the years, the parade grew to become what area residents know and love today. The date was changed from the Friday after Thanksgiving to the Saturday after, and the Pennysaver and Evening Sun took over as the main sponsor.

"As the years went along, Matt Cooney sold the radio station and we purchased the Evening Sun, so the Pennysaver and Evening Sun became the primary sponsor of the parade," said Snyder. "The other significant change was moving the parade to the Saturday evening after Thanksgiving. This came about at the suggestion of the City Fire Chief at the time, John Tighe, who previously was with the Corning, NY Fire Department.

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"In Corning their holiday parade was in the evening and was known as the Festival of Lights Parade featuring their area’s fire department decked as rolling christmas trees full of lights. Using the chief’s knowledge and his coordination, and encouragement, of the area’s fire departments, our own version of the Holiday Festival of Lights Parade was born about 20 years ago."

Last year, the beloved parade was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Snyder said during the planning process for the 2021 Parade of Lights, the decision was made to pass on the role of organizer to a new group.

"As we set about planning this year's event, we decided it was time to pass the torch on to others, to not only keep the parade going, but to make it even better," he said. "With this in mind, I reached out to our friends at Chobani who then reached out to the Norwich BID, and they jointly have agreed to take up the stewardship of this Norwich tradition. The Pennysaver and Evening Sun will remain as a media sponsor."

"Chobani reached out to me and asked if there's something we could do. They do their case giveaway, so they wanted to do their case giveaway that night," said Chawgo. "Normally it's funded by the community. This year it's going to be funded by Chobani, which is great."

Going forward, Chobani has already signed on to be a sponsor of the Parade of Lights for several years, according to Chobani Internal Communications Senior Director Jeff Genung. Additionally, the BID will continue to plan and organize the parade every holiday season.

"So this was my learning curve year," Chawgo explained. "Which, I still think it's gonna be phenomenal. And then next year will be full bore, a full year of planning."

"The passing of the torch came from need, and came out of desire to make this community still have this amazing memory that we could all have together and share," she added. "So, to me, that's why we're doing it."

Snyder thanked previous participants and coordinators for helping to keep the parade going strong over the years.

"As a result of the tremendous cooperation of our county’s Fire Departments, who use their trucks to light up Broad Street each year in large numbers, the parade has been a success. Also our two major parade coordinators during this period, first Linda Green and then Mike McCormick, along with many of our own employees, put in a great deal of time and effort to make the parade as popular as it has been," he said.

"Plus, if it wasn't for the financial support of all types and sizes of business and organizations, the parade never could have lasted so long," he continued. "Each year the list of supporters and participants was long, but for me NBT was a key partner, and in the last 5 years or so Chobani has made their presence known with their tremendous yogurt giveaway in the park after the parade."

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While the annual parade has seen some changes this year, it is still set to be a community event meant to bring people together.

"I want it to feel homey, I want it to feel like we're there together," said Chawgo. "To me, everything is about getting together and being together, and everything else is just the icing on the cake."

"Personally I’m proud that so many children have grown up with the memories of fun, music, and of course, Santa coming down Broad Street in all his splendor," said Snyder. "But it is truly all of the families that have braved the cold, and in some years the snow, that have made this parade so special."

The complete Parade of Lights lineup is as follows:

Division Street:

1. Pat Horton with sign

2. Bagpiper Steve Cady

3. Norwich Police Department car

4. Norwich Mayor Shawn Sastri, former Mayor Christine Carnrike, Mayoral elect Brian Doliver

5. City Hall Snow Girls

6. Norwich Fire Department truck #230

7. Norwich Fire Department ambulance

8. Norwich Fire Department truck #234

9. Norwich Fire Department truck #232

10. Norwich Fire Department truck #233

11. Norwich Fire Department truck #235

12. Norwich Fire Department truck #236

13. Norwich Fire Department truck #237

14. Norwich Fire Department

15. Assemblyman Joe Angelino

Hickock Avenue:

1. A Little Herbal Shoppe

2. Matthews Ford #1

3. Matthews Ford #2

4. Chobani

5. RSD Motorsports

6. Classic Car Museum - 1966 Plymouth

7. Classic Car Museum - 1936 Cadillac

8. Norwich Tractor

9. Progressive Dental

10. Reese Marshall

Francis Avenue:

1. Chenango County Dairy Princess

2. Mirabito Energy Products

3. NHS Marching Band

4. Donna Frech School of Dance

5. Bible Baptist Church

6. South New Berlin Fire Department firetruck

7. South New Berlin Fire Department ambulance

8. G&B Logging

9. Galena Growlers

Conkey Avenue:

1. IBEW Local 363 - Frontier Families

2. Build Block CNY

3. Unadilla Fire Department

4. Plymouth Fire Department

5. Unadilla Valley Girl Scouts

6. Chenango County Historical Society

7. Realtime Dixieland Band

8. Rough Riders Arena

9. Blue Ox

Brown Avenue:

1. Buckley's Excavating

2. As I Am Church

3.Mullins Family and Friends

4. Sherburne-Earlville Girl Scouts - Service Unit 333

5. Kutik's Honey

6. Hidden Ponds Horse Lovers

7. First Baptist Sunday School

8. Pharsalia Fire Department

9. Chase Nursing Home

10. Greene Fire Department

Eaton Avenue:

1. NBT Bank

2. Maloney Memorial Pipe Band

3. The Pulse - Reality Check

4. The Ambitious Lions 4H Club

5. Town of North Norwich Highway Department

6. Waite Sleigh with Santa Claus


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