By DON AINES
9:28 PM EDT, October 27, 2012
After its first cancellation since World War II, the Alsatia Mummers Parade on Saturday night appeared not to have missed a beat as thousands of participants marched, danced and rode past thousands more spectators.
About 200 units ranging from floats with a few people to school bands with scores of players paraded down Potomac Street. The Alsatia Club set up more than 2,200 chairs along the route, but the sidewalks were jammed several rows deep with spectators, while others enjoyed a view from their apartments on a balmy October night.
First held in 1921, the parade only had been canceled during World War II until last year, when a freak snowstorm covered the area. This year, they got it in before Hurricane Sandy was expected to bring severe weather to the mid-Atlantic region.
“It’s our 87th year because last year got canceled,” said Russell Neff, chairman of the Alsatia Club’s Judging Committee. The 200-plus units signed up was about the same as most years, he said.
The club works all year to put on the parade, Neff said.
“I know in previous years, we’ve had budgets in the tens of thousands of dollars,” Neff said. “We work all year and have fundraisers all year to raise enough money to put on the parade.”
Business, church and civic organization floats, along with marching bands, classic cars, fire and farm equipment, crept by the reviewing stand at Bester Elementary School. Leitersburg Cinemas’ float had rows of easy chairs filled with people eating popcorn and watching coming attractions on a big screen.
Dancers from the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts wowed parade watchers with a zombie dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
The Mummers Parade is an event that was generational for many of those watching.
“I’m 66, and I came here when I was a kid,” Jim McCoy said. He was glad to see it return, he said.
“Yeah, I missed it,” McCoy said.
“My kids used to be in it,” said Tonia Leibrand of State Line, Pa. “My grandson’s in it this year.”
“I was in it when I was in the West Washington Street School,” said Betty Jones, who was watching it with her husband, David. That was back in the 1960s, she said.
“Now, we’re watching our grandkids,” one with the Williamsport High School marching band and the other with the school’s Sophisti’Cats, she said.
Two hours into the parade, the Joneses still were waiting for their grandchildren to march by.
Jane Coffman said her daughter, Jessica, is a Mummers Parade veteran.
“She was Little Miss Farmerette. That was her first experience,” Coffman said. “She was 4 years old. It was bitterly cold.”
Now a sophomore at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, Jessica Coffman was participating Saturday as a member of the school’s Musical Theater Department, her mother said.
For some people, this was their first time at the Mummers Parade.
Rick Anthony said he has lived in Washington County for 22 years.
“Finally, I don’t have to stay at home with our younger one because they’re both in the parade this year,” Anthony said. Son Patrick was playing with the Boonsboro Middle School marching band, while son Thomas was performing with the dancers from the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.
"It really was a great parade ... We're all celebrating our victorious evening, especially after having to cancel last year," Parade Chairman Jim McCleaf said after the three-hour event. He said its success was due to the many volunteers who helped keep the tradition going.
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