by Geoff Fox
On Wednesday, October 29, 1947, the Hancock Rotary held their first Halloween Parade and on Wednesday, October 26, they celebrated the 75th anniversary.
Rain early in the day last Wednesday gave way to a dry evening with temperatures in the mid to upper 50s with a slight breeze keeping it cool.
That gave folks – young and old, two legged and four legged – a good reason to come out early and line Main Street, waiting for the parade to kick off at 7:30 p.m.
Hancock organizations and businesses were set up offering snacks and hot drinks as folks waited for the parade to begin.
Of course, the vendors with the carts were strolling along Main Street selling their toys and cotton candy.
Dan Murphy, who has been the parade organizer for 43 years, said Rotary knew the number of entries was going to be similar to that of 2021, which was the first parade back after a storm washed out the 2019 parade and COVID cancelled the parade in 2020.
Last year’ s parade, he said, was about 2/3 or less of what previous parades had been.
“This year, we wondered if there would be more entries if people would be more apt to get back in the swing of things,” Murphy said.
It didn’ t happen that way with only 44 units in a parade that lasted about about 37 to 40 minutes. In the past there have been upwards of 90 units in the parade.
Murphy did say it was a nice sized parade, he felt, but it wasn’t as big as it had been traditionally.
Over the years, parades have gotten smaller, but there were positive reactions from parade goers and parade judges.
Usually there are a number of antique vehicles in the parade, but this year there were not as many.
Murphy pointed out Rotary knew they’ d be down a few bands as there are some marching bands not marching in Washington County.
E. Russell Hicks Middle School did return, Murphy said, as the school has been participating for a number of years and they are a large band.
When lining up in Widmeyer Park and along Blue Hill, Murphy said the energy was “very positive” and seemed like everyone was having a good time, looking forward to the parade.
The weather also played a part.
“We dodged a bullet with the weather,” Murphy said.
With all that, Murphy said this year’ s parade felt like a normal parade.
Everything went smoothly in getting the parade started, even after a wide-load tractor-trailer hauling a large yacht came through town.
Murphy said the tractor-trailer trying to make the turn from Main Street onto Virginia A venue and High Street before heading back to the interstate about a half hour before the parade.
“Apparently that got squared away and our police were able to remedy that situation,” Murphy said.
The crowds were reported to be good and people behaved themselves, Murphy said. He added the parade is going to be called a success.
The parade is supported by the giving of local businesses and organizations with a solicitation going on a month before the parade.
Those businesses that supported the parade had orange signs in their windows letting people know they were supporting the parade.
Murphy said there is a diminishing number of businesses in town and some who gave to Rotary in the past, but either didn’ t give this year or not at all.
The money raised by Rotary for the parade goes back into the parade as prize money for the entrants.
The prize money this year, he said, was adequate and there was a nice amount to work with this year.
One thing different this year for the parade was not in the parade, but in Widmeyer Park and the staging area where they were used as runners between parade units and organizers.
Murphy said the students who were helping Rotary members were able to get community service hours toward graduation.
“They did a real fine job,” Murphy said. “We were real happy to have them on board this year for the first time.”
While the parade wasn’ t as long as it had been in the past, people enjoyed the parade.
Murphy said people had a good time at the parade and the spirit of the season is there as well.
When the community comes together for an event like the parade and has fun, “that’ s what Rotary’ s looking for in this,” Murphy said
The parade had a number of entries win prizes.
Majorettes – Silver Starlettes Majorettes and Honor Guard
Cheerleading – Hancock Flag Football Cheerleaders
Judges’ Choice – Good Shepherd Preschool, Cooking Up Some Fun
Scouting Organizations – first place, Girl Scout Troop #15055, Be In A League Of Your Own; second, Needmore Cub Pack #45, Scouting and Camping and third, Girl Scout Troop #80338, Spooky Scouts
Community Floats – first place, Hancock Flag Football and second, Lions Club
Family Floats – first place, MacDowell Family, Toy Story and second, W atson Family – Halloween
Antique trucks, Heavy – first place, Martin Harvey, ’56 Mack Truck and second, John Belcher, ’65 Mack Truck
Antique Trucks, Light – Steve Thompson, ’64 Ford pick up.