NEWTOWN >> With string bands playing, sirens sounding and candy canes aplenty, Newtown pulled out all the holiday stops on Dec. 4 to welcome Santa to town.
And what a welcome it was with more than 1,800 participants and well in excess of 5,000 people watching the festive march through town sponsored by McCaffrey’s Food Markets and organized by the Newtown Business Association.
Stationed on a balcony at Goodnoe Corner overlooking Sycamore Street, District Judge Mick Petrucci and Newtown Borough resident Christina Nelson provided commentary as the parade marched by.
Billed as the biggest Holiday Parade in Bucks County, the march stepped off with Newtown Borough Police Chief Anthony Wojciechowski and motorcycle officers from Newtown Township leading the way followed by a color guard from American Legion Post 440 and the 1st Crossing Volunteers, an 18th century re-enactment group from Crossing Community Church who paused occasionally along the route to fire salutes.
Newtown Borough Mayor Charles Swartz tipped his top hat to the people lining the streets as he rode by with State Representative-elect Perry Warren and borough councilor Tara Grude-McLaughlin.
The Newtown Democrats and the Newtown Republicans also joined the march, including District Attorney Matthew Weintraub, Bucks County Controller Mike Gallagher and Newtown Township Supervisors Ryan Gallagher and Kyle Davis.
Five string bands, including Ferko, Uptown, Quaker City, Aqua and Greater Kensington had people dancing in the streets - and on the sidewalks - to the unique Philadelphia “show of shows” sound.
Adding to the fun and smiles were the Courtney Carolers, always a parade favorite; antique vehicles and sports cars; Therapy Dogs International, which put paws to the pavement for this year’s march; and plenty of candy canes and other holiday treats given out along the route.
A replica of The First National Bank of Newtown’s iconic clock - decorating a snowy landscape - passed by with the title, “Walking in a First National Wonderland.”
Harris Fuel brought out its antique fuel oil truck. Several bicyclist entertained with high-wheeling antics. The Newtown Athletic Club rolled by with a happy holidays vehicle. And the St. Andrew CYO Cheerleaders were there spreading holiday cheers.
Also joining the march was Hutch Hamilton and his team of Belgian horses escorting Pack 380 through town; Pickering Manor was also there along with the Newtown Lions Club, local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Hamilton Supply Co. with its antique delivery truck; and Action Karate, proclaiming to the world that “Even Santa Does Karate.”
Some of the local businesses taking part were Kumon; Burns Auto Repair; the Weed Man; MeMa Mates; Team Toyota; American Chimney; Fun Center Power Sports; Rick Steele’s Service Station; and Dogs and Cats Rule.
The award-winning bands from Council Rock High School North and South helped trumpet in the season. And all the local dancers were there too, including Debra Sparks Dance Works; BC Discoveries; the Dance Academy; and the Pennsylvania School for the Performing Arts.
The parade concluded with fire sirens wailing as the Newtown Fire Association joined Jim McCaffrey and McCaffrey’s Food Markets in heralding the arrival of Santa Claus.
Riding aboard an antique Newtown Fire Association engine, the jolly old soul received a huge Newtown welcome from the crowds, who at places stood three to four rows deep along State and Sycamore streets.
There’s no doubt that Santa and his elves will be talking about this year’s parade for months to come as one of the best in recent memory.