Waynesburg’s annual downtown Christmas parade is hitting High Street Saturday at 2 p.m.
Executive Director of the Greene County Chamber of Commerce Melody Longstreth has been organizing the parade since she took the position in 198. For Longstreth, the day could not work without the many hands that make it happen.
“If it were not for the volunteers who assist that day, our office would not be able to put the parade together for the community,” Longstreth said. “Last year we had 40 volunteers working that day in various positions to make it happen.”
volunteers arrive at 9 a.m. on the day of the parade to begin marking the streets. Volunteers will then stay until 4 p.m. to help guide the floats out safely. There are also volunteer videographers, photographers, announcers and crowd control personnel.
Preparation for the parade starts well in advance, even months before the parade date. Residents at Rolling Meadows Nursing Home and clients of Greene Arc helped reach out to participants from the prior year. Volunteers also post no parking signs, deliver flyers to homes and businesses and mark the pavement with line-up numbers for the floats.
In planning, floats are referred to as units. With 109 signed up for this Saturday, the Waynesburg Borough is close to its record of 119 units. The challenge of coordinating these floats is Longstreth’s favorite part of her job.
“I have to park 100 or so, different size and type entries, in a very small footprint with difficult points of entry and exit for many units,” Longstreth said. “It is like putting together a very large jigsaw puzzle.”
All the units will be judged by a group of three judges at noon. They have to be parked according to their line-up number and size in order to have the parade come down the street to match the announcer’s script at the courthouse.
“I have an eight-page guideline that I wrote years ago that I follow each year,” she said. “It is constantly being updated as things change from year to year.”
Longstreth has to handle the entire project, from sending out applications, arranging for police and borough participation in closing off the needed streets, obtaining volunteers, organizing the entries and planning their parking. This preparation all begins in the first week of September.
“The chamber has been hosting the parade since 1938 in downtown Waynesburg. It is an honor to be able to continue the Chamber’s legacy of presenting the parade,” she said.
Longstreth will be present to send off all of the units and guide them off afterward. This position has given her something to look forward to every holiday season.
“I love to see all of the units as they pass by me,” Longstreth said. “I make it a point to try to personally thank each unit as they pass by. My hope for the parade it that it continues to be something that the community embraces.”