holiday parade

These cute children, dressed as Santa’s little elves, were part of The Herald’s entry into last year’s Hermitage Holiday Light Parade. This year, the parade’s ninth, they will get it going with a bang, literally, as a volley of fireworks will be set off to herald the start of the event, which has become a Shenango Valley tradition.

Hermitage Holiday Light Parade organizers like to keep a sense of tradition, from the Hickory Veterans of Foreign Wars providing a color guard to lead the parade, and Santa Claus spreading cheer from the rear.

But, organizers also like to inject something new into each parade. This year, the parade’s ninth, they will get it going with a bang.

“There will be a short fireworks display that will kick off the parade,” said Ed Chess, city parks and recreation director.

Hermitage Business Association is sponsoring the 3-to-5-minute burst by Pyrotecnico of New Castle.

So far, 62 units are registered for Saturday’s parade, and organizers expect that about 80 will march past spectators along East State Street. Among those signed up are the Hickory, Kennedy Catholic, Sharon and Reynolds high school marching bands, scout troops, fire trucks, dance and baton groups and floats put together by businesses and nonprofit groups.

The parade starts at 6 p.m. at North Kerrwood Drive and winds its way east on East State to North Hermitage Road, where it heads north to Hermitage Middle School. Police will close East State from Buhl Farm Drive to the Shenango Valley Freeway, and North Hermitage Road from Highland Road to the freeway, for about two hours.

The parade attracts about 15,000 spectators a year.

For the second year, YMCA, Hermitage, will be collecting nonperishable food items for donation to Community Food Warehouse in Farrell.

Instead of distributing bags, as was done last year, donors are to bring their own bags, said YMCA volunteer Lynette Hartenstein, who is coordinating the effort.

“Last year, we got approximately 500 bags,” she said. “We’d love to double that this year.”

YMCA volunteers will collect the bags as their float travels along the parade route.

Ms. Hartenstein also is hoping to get children excited for the food drive. Bags will be given to Hermitage students in kindergarten through grade four. The students will be asked to decorate the bags and take them home to fill them with groceries to bring to the parade, she said.

Donors who cannot make the parade or are late in arriving can drop off food items at the YMCA, 925 N. Hermitage Road, or Magnotto’s Shop N’ Save, 2199 E. State St.

Former city Commissioner Sylvia A. Stull has been named grand marshal of the parade, although officials expect she will not be able to attend due to poor health.

Mrs. Stull, 81, served 27 years on the board, her reign ending in January.

“I enjoyed every minute of it,” she said at her last meeting.

Mrs. Stull, who has lived at 4568 Sample Road all her life, went out as president of the board. A Democrat, she retired from the former General American Transportation Corp., Masury, where she worked for 40 years handling accounting, payroll, inventory and other accounting functions.

She previously worked for Mellon Stuart Construction Co., Sharon Transformer Division of Westinghouse Electric Corp. and the federal government at the former Camp Reynolds.

Mrs. Stull’s husband of 58 years, Donald L. Stull, died Feb. 5, 2004.

The parade is followed by a reception and awards ceremony in the school.

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