The Story Behind
The “Washingtonville Christmas Parade”
As told by former Chamber President Rick Lewis.
I was always a fan of the Wallington, New Jersey Christmas Parade. Having spent all of my adult life as a volunteer fire fighter, the idea of a Christmas Parade made up of over 200 fire trucks decorated with lights for the holiday was the ultimate event. As a board member of the Blooming Grove/Washingtonville Chamber of Commerce for many years I had mentioned to others about my fascination with this idea from time to time. Tom DeVinko was Mayor of the Village of Washingtonville at the time and every holiday season I would say “we need to have a Christmas Parade here in Washingtonville”. He would laugh a bit, not really taking the idea too seriously. The Village of Washingtonville always held a very nice Tree Lighting Ceremony in the Village Square. Afterwards everyone was invited back to the Village Hall for refreshments. It was a holiday tradition here in the village.
Then the floods came!
In August of 2011 the Village of Washingtonville and the Town of Blooming Grove experienced devastating damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
Almost a foot of rain fell in a short period of time leaving the Village and Town in shambles. Homes and businesses alike suffered incredible damage and loss from the flood waters. Businesses were closed, residents were trying to put their lives back together and pick up the pieces. We had taken a direct hit, a punch in the stomach that would be difficult to recover from.
As the cleanup began, I couldn’t help but think this town needs something happy to happen. The Chamber of Commerce reached out to our member businesses the best we could to help them come back. Everyone worked together to get back on their feet but people were down, preoccupied with the negativity before them.
I went to then Mayor Kevin Hudson and said “this is the year; we need to have a Christmas Parade. The residents need something to take their minds off the devastation, even if it’s for one night”. Mayor Hudson agreed and told me to “make it happen!” We had the full support of the Village Board. We organized the first Christmas Parade in December of 2011, and never looked back.
As we approach the 9th annual “Washingtonville Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony”, those dark days of August 2011 are long behind us but they have left us a new holiday tradition that will hopefully be with us for years to come.