First nighttime holiday parade in Dover a resounding success

DOVER — The crowd that lined Loockerman Street and the 40 or so entries that made up the Home For the Holidays Parade on Saturday night all seemed to arrive at the same conclusion — the first nighttime parade through the streets of Dover was an undeniable hit.

The parade, which lasted nearly a half-hour long, featured a couple of marching bands from Dover High School and Holy Cross, a drum line from Delaware Tech Community College Terry Campus, an ROTC group, several car clubs, dogs, some floats, fire trucks, and, of course, Santa Claus bringing up the rear.

Mayor Robin R. Christiansen waved to the crowd high above a gold Jeep near the front of the parade, following the Downtown Dover Partnership and the Holy Cross band, which played “Jingle Bells.”

“They (the Downtown Dover Partnership) said a nighttime parade would be the thing to do and I think that it’s terrific with the crowd we got and it’s going to get bigger and bigger, because they, like me, believe in Dover,” Mayor Christiansen said.

“Once the word spreads this is going to be a big event. Dover Days started off with two carriages and a couple of kids with shovels and look at the Dover Days parade today.”

Mandie Holsey stood with her son Jayden at the corner of Loockerman and State Street and waited in anticipation for the parade to come past.

She said the parade is a great idea to bring the community together for the holidays and to boost businesses downtown and an important economic time of the year.

“It looks like there’s a lot of people excited about it and this is my son Jayden’s second parade,” Ms. Holsey said. “We took a few pictures near the lights and it’s beautiful.

“I think everybody downtown is going to get a lot of business tonight. Dover should be proud of this event.”

If anybody knows parades, it’s the Dover High School Marching Band. They, too, gave Dover’s inaugural nighttime parade two thumbs up after entertaining the crowd with their rendition of “Christmas Boogie Wonderland.”

“I think this is the first-ever nighttime parade in Dover and it’s kind of exciting,” said Garrett George, the Senators’ band director. “We’ve got some lights, some drums that are lit up and I’m excited to see the band under the tree lights.”

Andrew Honeycutt, a trombonist for Dover High, spent the moments before the parade kicked off warming up with a couple of his classmates.

“I actually kind of like it because I like to see the Christmas lights, I think it adds to the spirit of the parade,” said Honeycutt, a junior. “If we had snow it wouldn’t be very nice to march in, but it would be nice to see.”

Kimmy Price and Victoria Voshell, directors for the Epic Performing Company, had youngsters from their group sitting atop a float that looked like a cozy Christmas time living room, complete with fireplace.

“We’re so excited. I like that we get to light it all up,” said Ms. Price, as last-minute preparations were being made to the float. “We’re doing a holiday show at Dover High this year for the first time. It’s a holiday show that will feature the second act of ‘Nutcracker’ and then we’re doing what we’re calling ‘Holiday Cheer.’”

One concern regarding the first nighttime parade that should be addressed was little children roaming onto Loockerman Street after candy treats were tossed their way, causing a couple of close calls with vehicles in the dark conditions.

However, overall, it appears that Dover has a new tradition to build upon with just a few tweaks to address added safety.

The Home for the Holidays Parade highlighted a day that featured a Holiday Marketplace at Loockerman Way Plaza,

It was certainly a fun time for families, fresh off the heels of Thursday’s Capital Holiday Celebration which featured the lighting of the Christmas trees in front of City Hall and then a festive First Friday downtown.

“That’s several days of celebrating the holiday’s downtown,” said Joan Cote, executive director for the Dover Downtown Partnership. “We strategically did it that way so that it will be a whole big block of days celebrating the holidays in downtown Dover.”

Dover’s holiday parade has traditionally taken place on a Saturday morning, but the organizers opted to make a change this year.

“We reflected on the success of previous years and wanted to shake things up a little,” said Ami Leaming, a second-year volunteer in organizing the parade. “We thought a nighttime parade would really bring in the magical feeling of the holidays, especially under the lighted trees that go down Loockerman Street.”

It appeared as if they found that ‘magical feeling’ — and then some.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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