The holiday season made a triumphant return to the borough Saturday, Dec. 7.
Under clear and sunny skies, with chilly temperatures hovering around 40 degrees, thousands packed Butler Avenue between Bethlehem Pike and Main Street to watch the Ambler Main Street Holiday Parade go by once again.
The annual holiday tradition did not disappoint. From scout troops to dance teams, marching bands to several holiday-themed floats, a Mummers band and more, there was plenty to see for all in attendance. Matching last year’s total, 45 organizations signed up to participate in this year’s parade. “The parade is huge this year,” said Liz Kunzier, Ambler Main Street Manager, who’s been in charge of the parade for the last seven years. “We have the same number of entrants that we had last year, but a lot more marchers and participants. It’s going to be a fun one.”
And of course, the holiday parade would not have been complete without a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, who waived to the adoring crowds from on top of their red sleigh. The couple was scheduled to make their next appearance in Ambler on Thursday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Ambler Train Station for the annual Santa by Train event.
If last week’s annual tree lighting ceremony on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday marked the unofficial start of the holiday season in the borough, then the annual holiday parade and the chance to see the most famous couple from the North Pole ride through town means “this is really it. Now the doors are being blown off,” said Kunzier.
What makes the parade special is its unique ability to bring families together, she said. “I love things for the kids,” she said. “This is about families coming out and having a good time. It’s good, clean, wholesome fun. It’s just fun families spending time together.”
With 17 shopping days before Christmas, business owners who participated in the parade called it a win-win for all involved. “Today was a great day in Ambler,” said Gene McGonagle, owner of the Ambler Flower Shop. “There was beautiful weather, the streets were lined with people and we were really happy to be waving and saying ‘Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas’ to everybody.” McGonagle said the event promotes local businesses because parents come to the parade to cheer with their children, and then they stop into the local stores afterward to shop.
Barbara Asman, owner of Xtra 101 boutique agreed. “I thought it was great,” she said. “I loved seeing all of the different floats, it was very colorful, a lot of children involved in the parade, a lot of music. It was a lot of fun … We have a great community in Ambler.”