By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
The 16th Hermitage Holiday Light Parade looks like it will be as packed as last year’s, which set a record for participants at 88.
At a recent parade committee meeting, 65 had signed up, with the committee members noting that there always are late and last-minute entrants that swell the number.
“We’ll more than likely be where we were last year,” said city Recreation Director Ed Chess.
Chess updated the number Thursday to 75, with 25 of them using full-sized flatbed trailers.
The entrants always have a receptive crowd, which organizers estimated at 15,000 last year.
Parade entrants come and go and there always are new ones to replace businesses and organizations that decide not to stage a float. This year, Refresh Dental, Sokol USA Farrell, Girl Scout Troop 36612 and National Fire and Water Repair are among new participants. The Mercer County Critical Incident Response Team will show off its newly acquired $328,000 rescue vehicle.
The grand marshal is Angela Palumbo, Pennsylvania CareerLink administrator for 13 years, and a 32-year state employee. Chosen because of her community service, the 1972 Kennedy Catholic High School graduate has served as president of Greater Sharon Associates, which stages the Sharon Night of Lights and Downtown Car Cruise.
She also has been president of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Hermitage Community and Economic Development Commission; secretary/treasurer of the Sharon Regional Health System board; member of the Butler County Community College and Laurel Technical Institute advisory boards; member of the United Way of Mercer County board; and state Department of Labor and Industry representative of the West Central Workforce Investment Board, which serves Mercer and Lawrence counties.
For some groups, the parade is a community service endeavor. Shenango Valley YMCA will collect food for donation to Community Food Warehouse; Penn State Shenango, Sharon, will accept new hats, mittens and gloves for donation to the homeless; and Hillcrest-Flynn Pet Care Foundation will gather pet food.
The junior marshals, chosen by random drawing, are Abby Cozad, 9, of Hermitage, daughter of Peggy and Shawn Cozad; and Cavin Brant, 7, of Clark, son of Bethany and Eric Brant.
The parade committee asks parents to make sure their children stay back from the floats when they are collecting candy as truck drivers cannot see them. Float operators are being asked to have walkers hand out candy instead of throwing it.
The parade starts at 6 p.m. and lasts several hours as floats and marchers wind their way down East State Street from Kerrwood Drive to North Hermitage Road.
Hermitage police will close State between Buhl Farm Drive and Hermitage Road and Hermitage Road between the Shenango Valley Freeway and Highland Road during the duration of the parade.