The annual Hammonton Firemen’s Christmas Parade rolled down Bellevue Avenue on Saturday night, much to the delight of the cheering onlookers who lined both sides of the avenue.
“We have over 35 participants registered for the parade this year,” said Rick Sepe, event administrator and chairperson for the parade. “I’m really pleased with the turnout this year, and I think that the weather has actually helped us. God gave us a beautiful night to celebrate the holiday season.”
Firetrucks covered in glimmering lights and holiday ornaments rolled along as the huge sounds from the roaring sirens filled the air. Joining the fire companies, which poured in from all over southern New Jersey, were an array of unique vehicles and floats from local churches, businesses and organizations.
“This is our first time participating,” said Jill Pino of Buddie and Jill Pino of the Kowboy Korral in Greenbank with the horse-drawn cart, adorned with classic Christmas laurel and ribbons. “I just hope the horses are okay with all the sirens,” grinned Pino.
Girl Scout mom Christina Angelastro marched along with Troop 30618, of which her daughter, 10-year-old Gabby, is a member. “Our girls participate in the Christmas parade every year,” beamed Angelastro, “They like handing out candy to the kids and spreading Christmas cheer.”
As the procession of merry-makers made its way through downtown Hammonton, it became clear the holiday spirit was indeed weaving its way through the upbeat crowd. Flags twirled and music played as the Hammonton High School Marching Band strolled along without missing a beat. Children were enchanted by their favorite Disney characters riding along on a snow-blowing float sponsored by J & A Landscaping of Folsom.
Alan Samuelson of Weekstown helped man the steam-powered tractor that wowed the onlookers. “This is our fourth or fifth time in the parade,” said Samuelson. “I can’t get over how much this parade has grown over the years and how well downtown Hammonton is doing. These people sure know what they’re doing.”
The parade wrapped up with a firetruck blanketed in colorful lights from the Hammonton Fire Department, Station 2, which chauffeured Santa Claus himself atop the giant engine. Waving to the captivated children below, Santa shouted out, “Ho, ho, ho!” one last time to the delight of the crowd.