Parade on track to be largest in city history

Churches, businesses, nonprofits, youth groups, schools and clubs have registered more than 70 units for this year’s Spirit of Christmas parade in Altoona, making it perhaps the biggest holiday parade in recent memory, according to Patrick Miller, president of the Greater Altoona Economic Development Corp.

There will be 25 floats, the largest number in recent history, and the Jaffa Shrine will enter its motorcycles, mini-cars and antique Corvettes at the Thursday, Dec. 5 event, sponsored by GAEDC, Miller said.

GAEDC is encouraging groups to incorporate the parade theme – “The Wonders of Christmas Morning” – into their floats.

The Altoona Area Junior High School junior varsity and varsity marching bands will participate, as will the Altoona Area High School marching band.

Santa Claus will be part of it, as will GAEDC employees galumphing along in inflatable balloon figures.

Representatives of area food banks will collect non-perishable goods before the parade to eliminate delays caused by in-parade collection, according to Mayor Bill Schirf.

Marine Corps representatives will collect unwrapped toys for their Toys for Tots program during the parade.

They’ll employ enough volunteers to avert delays, according to Miller.

Parade participants will distribute candy to spectators, but they will hand it out curbside instead of throwing it, so kids won’t come running out in front of the floats, Miller said.

The event will begin at 6 p.m.

The parade will start at Ninth Street and Green Avenue, go south for three blocks on Green Avenue to 12th Street, left a half block to 11th Avenue, then right five blocks to 16th Street.

The reviewing stand will be in front of Heritage Plaza.

Afterwards, workers will illuminate a Christmas tree in the plaza and set off fireworks in a lot across 10th Avenue Expressway.

Burgmeier Hauling is helping underwrite the parade, while the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation will also provide financial support.

CPCF Executive Director Jodi Cessna will be grand marshal.

Members of Leadership Blair County Alumni Association will help organize the parade.

Prizes will be awarded within the three parade divisions, which are arbitrary categories to help organizers manage the parade, and which don’t represent distinctions among the units.