Behind the scenes: parade planning

Maria Barcoski
News Writer

Last Saturday, October 13, the Millersville Community Parade took place, drawing in more 5,000 spectators.  Since this event is one of Lancaster County’s largest parades, planning is a very large task. Steven DiGuiseppe, Assistant to the Vice President for Alumni and Community Relations, has also been the parade chairman for 16 years.

According to DiGuiseppe, he and his committee plan the date of each parade two to three years in advance, “then immediately after the current parade, we have a meeting to discuss what we could improve upon for the next parade and went well with the current year’s parade.” They also discuss the possible themes and have the idea for the following year set in the fall.

The 2012 parade’s theme was “That’s Entertainment”. Entries were encouraged to depict forms of popular entertainment in their float or act. “We saw entries that television shows, Academy Awards, the circus, cartoon characters and so much more,” explains DiGuiseppe, whose favorite part of his position is watching the parade and seeing the reaction of other spectators.

“The one thing that I enjoy the most is actually watching the parade and seeing the reaction of children and other spectators… including their laughter and even their tears,” said DiGuiseppe. “This past year we did a 21-gun salute and played ‘Taps’ to honor the fallen soldiers and I literally saw about a dozen or more people tearing up in my immediate vicinity where I was stationed.”

The parade is not all fun and games, though. As parade chairman, DiGuiseppe must recruit 125-135 volunteers to make the parade run effectively. Training new recruits is also a big task, along with all the “eleventh hour” mishaps. “It would not be parade if we didn’t have that eleventh hour—seems like old hat, but we have seen several things happen in the last few hours before the parade annually,” including missing entries, unregistered entries and participants or volunteers getting hurt.

Weather can also wreak havoc on the carefully planned parade. According to DiGuiseppe, “the most memorable [parade] was the event held in 2011 since we had snow, rain and freezing rain on Saturday, October 29, 2011, which was the celebratory parade to commemorate Millersville’s 250th Anniversary.” Although attendance dropped, the parade proceeded with more than 1000 loyal participants.

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After all the planning and confusion, however, the parade always seems to rally up plenty of spirit and bring the Millersville community together. As for the 2012 Millersville Community Parade, DiGuiseppe says that it “was a great parade—great weather, great attendance, great number of entries—who could ask for anything more?”