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Community rallying to help Alsatia Club

July 22, 2007|By SHANNON EPPS

Support from community members and local businesses has helped relieve the financial burdens of the Alsatia Club Foundation Inc., the group that presents the annual Mummers Parade in Hagerstown.

In 2004, parade organizers discussed disbanding because of financial concerns and a drop in active membership, but the parade went on.

Since then, local support has increased significantly, said James McCleaf II, parade chairman and the mayor of Williamsport.

"When we did say there were concerns, lots of people stepped up," McCleaf said of the various community members and local organizations that have contributed to the club and the parade in recent years.

He said he believes "that shows that the community is aware and proud of that tradition."

McCleaf said N. Linn Hendershot, who joined the Alsatia Club so that he could help, has been a great asset to the club.

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"He has more drive than anyone I've ever met in my entire life," McCleaf said.

Hendershot, who handles marketing for the parade, said the City of Hagerstown has helped the club raise funds, and that he has been working hard to find sponsors.

"Primarily, we're trying to put together a marketing program whereby we can get not only individual support from the community, but also corporate support," he said.

McCleaf said he would like to obtain corporate sponsorship for the parade as well, but said the community has stepped up to support the parade.

"We don't have one big sponsor, but we sure do have a lot of little guys that come together to create one big heart, one big corporate sponsor," he said.

The parade, in its 83rd year, takes place on a Saturday night in late October or early November and draws crowds of more than 30,000 people, Hendershot said. About 10,000 people participate in the parade each year, he said.

McCleaf said he feels that it is the club's duty to give back to the community in appreciation of all of the support shown to the club and the parade.

"We want to be able to use the parade as a medium to bring some money to the community to give back," he said, mentioning the possibility of creating scholarship funds and donating to local organizations.

Hendershot said the club has about 200 members, and that any volunteers who would like to help with the parade would be welcomed.

Although McCleaf said the Alsatia Club is "still not out of the woods," he said the club is on the right track.

"I think we've come a long way ..." he said. "It's a community success story."

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