by Sue Ann Rybak

The Christmas season In Chestnut Hill was officially kicked off on Saturday morning, Dec. 13, with the arrival of Santa Claus in the Hill’s annual Holiday Parade.

Seven-year-old Lisa Lavender, of Chestnut Hill, couldn’t wait to see Santa Claus. Her father said she has been counting down the days until the parade. Lavender knew exactly what she wanted to ask Santa Claus for this Christmas – bunk beds. No doubt she was planning to have a slumber party soon.

Saint Nicholas arrived in style on the back of the Wyndmoor Hose Company No. 1’s 1958 B-Model Mack Heavy Rescue Fire Truck.

Hundreds of spectators lined the Avenue to see more than 25 organizations, including St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Choir, Springfield High School Marching Bank, Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences, “Rumble,” the University of the Arts barrel drum corps, and Penn Charter’s Quakers Dozen, all of whom got the crowd in the holiday spirit by performing Christmas carols and other holiday songs. Before the parade, spectators also were treated to musical performances by The Penn Charter High School band and Mike Frendak, owner of A Taste of Philly, 8513 Germantown Ave., who sang and played guitar.

The Mounted Police Patrol, Chestnut Hill’s Fire Company Engine 37, The American Legion Color Guard, Nesting Moms, The Venetian Club’s comic brigade, antique cars, sports clubs, Boy Scout troops, and several local schools, including Norwood-Fontbonne Academy, St. Genevieve School in Flourtown and Springfield Chestnut Hill Academy, also marched in this year’s holiday celebration.

There were also appearances by Stag & Doe, Elmo, Big Bird and – everyone’s favorite – the Philly Phanatic.

After the parade, children of all ages were invited to drink hot cocoa, roast marshmallows and have their photo taken with Santa Claus at the Market at the Fareway.

Brian Tilley, a former president of the Chestnut Hill Community Association and the organizer of this year’s event, said the turnout for this year’s parade was “fantastic.” He added that this year the parade had many more participants than last year.

“This year we had more antique cars, marching bands and local schools,” Tilley said. “We are looking forward to having more in the future. It’s only going to get bigger. The parade can get as big as the community wants it to get. It’s a wonderful celebration of holiday and community spirit.”