They aren't old enough to drive, but that won't prevent a pair of Northern Lehigh Middle School students from sitting behind the steering wheel.
That's because eighth-grader Stephan Scheib and seventh-grader Rebecca Blocker have respectively been chosen as king and queen of this year's Northern Lehigh Halloween Parade.
The 103rd annual parade will start at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. It will form at 5 p.m. at South and Main Street in Slatington. Streets in the boroughs of Slatington and Walnutport will be closed to traffic at 6 p.m.
Rather than appoint a traditional grand marshal as it has done in the past, the committee chose to run a contest for Northern Lehigh Middle School children to determine a king and queen.
As per the contest, the students were asked to submit an essay that explained what community meant to them and their definition of community pride, said Laura Stauffer, committee president.
"We had wonderful entries this year and were happy with the response," Stauffer said. "The king and queen were chosen based on both their school and extra curricular activities, along with their essay submissions."
Scheib said he felt "proud and excited" to learn he had been selected as king of this year's parade.
"I wrote about how you don't have to travel far from home to go to great colleges, and about the activities the community has to offer," Scheib said. "I have done volunteer work."
Blocker said she was "really excited and proud that I was chosen [to be queen of the parade]."
"I wrote about no matter what you do, the community supports you in what you're doing," Blocker said. "And how the community helps support you dreams and goals."
The parade will form at South and Main Street in Slatington. From there, it follows Main Street through Slatington, over the General Morgan Bridge, and continues into Walnutport, where it then turns onto Lincoln Avenue. Walking groups and small floats are picked up at the Walnutport Playground, while large floats pull into the shopping center parking lot for unloading.
Sponsored by the Northern Lehigh Events Committee, the four-division parade promises to be a "fun night", said Stauffer.
Stauffer said that while the exact origins of the parade remain controversial, the event is nonetheless a "wonderful family tradition that we hope to keep going for another 103 years and beyond."
"Our major goal was to continue the tradition for the community so that everyone from the surrounding areas could enjoy the parade and the festivities," she said. "Secondly, we as a group are looking to grow the parade. In years past, the funding for the Northern Lehigh Halloween parade has not been as plentiful as before, and we have had to cut back on certain things."
This year, Stauffer said the NLEC didn't have the budget again for the string bands that it pays to perform. As a result, she said it has taken steps to increase its budgeting for years to come so that it can again have all the bands, floats and parade performers that had made the parade the event it is known for.
"However, this year's parade will be wonderful as we have new entries, such as the band "Taunted by Tomorrow" from Palmerton; they will be playing live through out the parade route," she said. " We have dance academies, the Northern Lehigh High School Marching Band will also be performing, along with other new and veteran groups returning for this year's parade."
Stauffer said the committee partakes in various functions throughout the year.
"The Northern Lehigh Events Committee is happy to be able to keep the tradition alive this year," she said. "We are a group that is committed to community involvement in the Northern Lehigh community and have many fun events throughout the year for all ages."