Meadville Halloween Parade aficionados must take immediate note: No matter how well it’s worked out for you throughout the past 47 years, don’t even think about positioning your official parade-viewing chairs along North Street on Saturday night. In two words, big mistake!
Anyone waiting along the parade’s traditional North Street route will eventually discover that this year’s parade will not — repeat, will not — pass you by.
That’s because the parade route has been dramatically re-arranged in an effort to avoid the rocky road known as North Street as construction on Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s North Street Improvement Project winds down for its winter break.
Starting promptly on Saturday at 6:30 p.m., the parade will kick off from the corner of South Main and Arch streets, proceed north to Diamond Park, circle the park, turn right onto Chestnut Street, make another right onto Market Street, pause in the customary manner — albeit from the opposite direction — at the reviewing stand in front of Meadville’s historic Market House, continue along Market to Terrace Street, turn left onto Terrace Street and disperse in the vicinity of Penn Plaza, where vehicles awaiting the arrival of tired paraders are invited to park.
The parade will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation to fund the granting of a local wish. A wishing well will be set up at the Market House — organizers stress that anyone wanting to help make a wish come true is invited to throw donations into the well.
New lineup plans
The approximately 120 units taking part in what has become known as the largest nighttime parade in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will line up along South Main Street and its tributaries this time around, with numbered spaces beginning at Arch and stretching south toward Linden Street.
Floats participating in the parade’s cutthroat float competition must be in place and ready to be judged by 5 p.m. sharp. No exceptions, according to the judges, who have taken a solemn oath to not even consider returning to judge a unit not ready on time. All units must be in their places by 6.
Sponsored by Crawford Area Young Changer of Commerce, an independent organization offering community service, career development and networking opportunities for individuals between the ages of 21 and 40 from throughout Crawford County, the 2013 parade is under the direction of Erin Struchen and Jammie Hayek.
“Superheroes” is the 2013 theme; Dr. John Nesbitt will serve as grand marshal.
As a result of one organization’s remarkably consistent appearance at the top of the float awards list in recent years, Hayek noted that an underlying theme is emerging. Asked if she’s heard any exciting rumors of spectacular floats in the making, “Everybody is keeping it pretty quiet,” she said Monday. “Everyone is very gung-ho about beating Wesbury (United Methodist Retirement Community) this year.”
Struchen noted with some interest that the “Superheroes” theme has inspired what may be the first-ever inquiry about maximum float height. “The city was OK with anything that will clear the power lines,” she said.