"This is the largest Halloween parade I've ever seen in Tamaqua," said Rusty Nelson, a lifetime resident of Tamaqua.

Those words were proven last night as thousands of spectators lined the streets to receive candy and watch over 70 organizations take part in the 45th Annual Tamaqua Halloween Parade, organized by the Tamaqua Lions Club and Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce.

Participating groups consisted of marchers, bands, large floats, classic cars, school bands, club bands, pet groups, sports teams, businesses and emergency vehicles.

Leading the parade were the Tamaqua American Legion and Grand Marshal Judge D. Michael Stein and Tamaqua area citizenship award winner Andy Leibenguth.

"The Lions Club did a great job with this parade," said Linda Yulanavage, executive director, Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce. "It is always a good thing to have so many people downtown supporting Tamaqua businesses, organizations and community."

Communications along the parade route were provided by the Tamaqua Wireless Association while Tamaqua Lions Club members and volunteers, with the help of the Tamaqua Police and fire police, kept everything running smoothly.

One memorable moment of the parade was when members of the Elite Generation Wrestling (EGW) paused to present a certificate and ring their match bell three times in memory of the late Joe Plasko, who passed away March 22. Plasko, who was the TIMES NEWS Tamaqua bureau chief, volunteered as the master of ceremonies for the Halloween parade for many years.

First place winners in the motorized category was the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum Float, which was promoting its Haunted Mine Tours this weekend.

Second place winner was Carl Rutch Trucking and Excavating, which had its industrial trucks decorated from top to bottom, while scary ghouls looked over the top at the crowd. Third place winner was Gene Arner Auctioneers, who were dressed to scare.

Winners in the marching category were: first place, Tamaqua Salvation Army, which had performers and marchers play music and dance as they used a trailer to carry a big tire representing their theme of "God's spirit surrounds us;" second place, Tamaqua High School Raider Band, which amazed the crowd as members marched by dressed in costume; and Tamaqua Junior Girl Scout Troop 31106 wore costumes representing the Girl Scouts 100-year anniversary this year.

Winning best of show was East Penn Service Center, with a float themed after a mechanic's shop.

"The parade attracts more and more entries every year, which makes the event more enjoyable every year," said Yulanavage.

Eileen Barron, assistant director, Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce, was also pleased.

"Parade and spectator attendance was definitely above average this year," said Barron, "as the parade's reputation and great weather added to the parade's success."

The Tamaqua Lions Club expressed its appreciation to other members and organizations of the community who donated time, materials and money to help support one of Tamaqua's largest events.

"We couldn't have held such a great event without all the support from the community and dedication of volunteers and parade participants," said parade organizer Rich Shupp, Tamaqua Lions Club.

"Organizing a parade this size was definitely a challenge, but it is truly worth it when we see the parade bring together all the fun people of Tamaqua."