Fantastical creatures and landscapes abounded last night in what is possibly the oldest Halloween parade in all of Pennsylvania, the Northern Lehigh Halloween Parade (formerly known as the Slatington Halloween Parade).
Begun in 1907, the parade celebrated its 106th year of continuous operation this year with a theme of "Halloween in Fantasy Land." This led to a wide array of costumed characters, but most notably ones from "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," including an entire group of Oompa Loompas, the small people from Loompaland who work at Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and love cocoa beans and singing. Another common theme of the night was a tropical motif.
Groups participating included the Northern Lehigh High School Band and cheerleaders, Emerald Dragon Karate of Slatington, and the Raja Shriner Oriental Band, along with 49 others comprising three divisions. Over a half dozen Scouting troops also participated, plus an entire family from just south of the area who called themselves Anna's Goblins and said, "We do this every year just for fun."
Enjoyment was also the reason Paul Green, Walnutport, says he participates every year in the parade.
"It's just fun," said Green, dressed as a hobo pushing a shopping cart.
"We come every year because Douglas loves the parade," said Marvin "Pop Pop" Mantz, who sat along the curb in Slatington with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and grandson, Douglas Greene, 9. Douglas said simply that he comes to see the fire trucks and to get candy.
Prizes for the parade were awarded for such categories as: Best Costume Small Group (25 or less), Best Costume Larger Group (26 or more), Best Parade Character, Best Small Float, Best Large Float, Best Parade Theme and Special Legion Award. The night's top honor was Most Creative Entry, which earned the $300 top prize.
Northern Lehigh Events Committee President Laura Stauffer said she will be announcing the parade winners later in the week. She added that the committee runs the parade through donations and fundraising events, noting that "bucket walkers" were on hand during the parade to receive donations and that the prizes alone cost $2,000. She also noted that donations can still be made at NLParade@yahoo.com .
Stauffer also lauded the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
"This year we had a lot of volunteer help from the IBEW and without their help, we would not have had a parade … they've been through everything today helping us."