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Parade a real crowd-pleaser

October 29, 2000

Parade a real crowd-pleaser



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


All the ingredients came together Saturday night for the 76th Alsatia Mummers' parade - proud parents and politicians, police patrols, pretty girls, pumpkins, Pluto balloons and lots of glow sticks.

Even the weather cooperated for the most part with clear skies, although the temperature dropped as the sun went down.

"It's tradition to come every year," said Jill Patterson of Greencastle, Pa., whose daughter is in the school band this year and whose son used to be.

Patterson seemed be enjoying more than just the hometown music.

Kenna Bingaman of Lewisburg, Pa., was experiencing the parade for the first time.

"A friend told me about it so I thought I'd come," Bingaman said.

She brought the friend, Chris Faith of Greencastle, Pa., along to enjoy the parade with her.

"It's the only night parade I've ever been to and I like it," Bingaman said.

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Willy Wynn's perspective on the event was unique. A Hagerstown resident, Wynn said this is his first experience with the Alsatia Mummers' Parade.

"I travel for a living," Wynn said, noting that in the past he hasn't been in town when the parade took place.

"Night parades are a little different but I'm enjoying it," he said.

All but the Washington County bands were judged Saturday night by the Pittsburgh-based Great Lakes Judging Association, which rates the bands and floats as they pass through the judging area by Bester Elementary School.

William "Bill" McCleaf, parade chairman, said Washington County bands are invited to march only in the Halloween-themed parade, as has been the custom for years.

Volunteers judge the mummers, which are costumed youngsters marching along the parade route, he said.

Approximately 200 units, including bands, commercial and amateur floats, majorette groups, drill teams and costumed characters, participated in the parade.

Country singer Joe Diffie was grand marshal, coming right off the stage at The Maryland Theatre where he performed for an appreciative audience during the afternoon.

The parade, which usually draws about 100,000 people, is one of the largest independent parades on the East Coast, McCleaf said.

Four of those who attended were Lisa and Tim Peiffer of Waynesboro, Pa., and their children, Shelby, 4, and Josh, 7.

"Tim and I have come before but this was Shelby's first time," said Lisa Peiffer. "We're a little cold but still having a good time."

Veteran Hagerstown City Police Officer Ernie Stoner said he's worked every Alsatia Mummers' Parade but two in his 26 years on the force.

"Everybody works tonight," Stoner said.

The Alsatia club has more than 200 members, about 40 of whom are active all year. About a month after this year's parade, work begins on the 2001 event.

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