VENTNOR – A handful of volunteers have been working since summer to make the fourth annual Ventnor Twilight Holiday Parade the best ever.
According to parade organizer Shelley D’Orazio, there are about 75 units registered to march in the parade, although fewer may actually show up depending on weather and availability. The parade will line up in the Cornwall Avenue area and step off at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. The “just in case” date is Dec. 8. The route is Ventnor Avenue, from Derby Avenue to Troy Avenue.
“It’s a big parade this year. I don’t think Ventnor has ever had a parade this large before. It has grown by leaps and bounds,” D’Orazio said, stating the line-up is subject to some last-minute changes.
This year’s parade is extra-special, however, because it is being held on Pearl Harbor Day.
“We are going to be honoring all our veterans. We have representatives from each branch of the military who will be riding in a donated limousine,” she said.
The veterans will be treated to a special luncheon at Isabella’s before the parade.
The parade will boast a Mummer’s string band, a bagpiper band and four high school bands. Participants include the Gloucester City String Band, Jersey Devil Pipe Band, and Atlantic City High School, Mainland Regional High School and Oakcrest High School marching bands. The Ventnor Middle School Jazz Band will also be there.
Other entries include the Atlantic County Institute of Technology Junior ROTC, VFW honor guard, and representation from the Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport Police and Fire departments, Ventnor City Pirate football team and cheerleaders.
Five volunteers make up the parade committee, including D’Orazio and her husband Pete, Rose Hamilton, Albert Battaglia and the youngest member of the group, Colin Fuentes, a Ventnor resident who volunteers for numerous community events.
“We’ve been making contacts and networking for months,” D’Orazio said, with each member recruiting and scheduling different units.
The parade is funded with donations and a contribution from the city’s recreation budget.
The mayors of all three Downbeach communities will be in the parade, along with New Jersey Sen. Chris Brown, who resides in Ventnor, and Miss New Jersey Jade Glab.
D’Orazio said she stuffed 800 bags with candy, which Willy Wonka and a group of volunteers will distribute to children along the parade route.
There’s just as much fun to be had at the end of the parade route where a block party will be held at Ventnor Avenue and New Haven Avenue.
The block party includes several food trucks, vendors selling holiday merchandise, bouncy rides and interactive activities for children. There will be music, an Elvis tribute artist, and complimentary horse and buggy and pony rides for children.
No holiday parade would be complete without the man of the hour, Santa Claus, who will arrive aboard a Ventnor City Beach Patrol surf boat. Mrs. Claus will also be there to make sure everything goes as planned.