by Paula M. Riley

The parade is on its way! On Saturday, Dec. 14, Germantown Avenue will host the Chestnut Hill Community Holiday Parade from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Beginning at Chestnut Hill Avenue, musicians, community groups, antique cars will parade on Germantown Avenue, led by Philadelphia’s Mounted Police Unit, Chestnut Hill’s Fire Company Engine 37, Wyndmoor Volunteer Fire Hose #1 and – everyone’s favorite – the Philly Phanatic. Joining them is the Venetian Club’s comic brigade that performs each year in the New Year’s Day Parade.

At the heart of parade, however, are the children. More than 325 marchers representing local schools, sports groups, 4-H clubs, scout troops and sporting clubs are participating. They will march down the Avenue carrying banners, throwing candy or waving to spectators along the route.

“This parade is all about the community coming together to celebrate the holiday season,” said Brien Tilley, president of Chestnut Hill Community Association and parade organizer.

The parade participation has grown quite significantly since Tilley first shared his idea with participants. In the last two weeks, merchants along the business corridor have hung parade signs and schools have shared the news with their students. Each day, new interested parties are requesting participation.

Tilley purposely did not seek sponsors for the parade because he wanted the focus to be on the children and families and to “just have fun together.” The only funds being used are those rose from past CHCA events. Tilley credits the trustees of the Chestnut Hill Community Fund for their support of this endeavor.

In organizing the parade, Tilley drew upon the stories he had heard of past Chestnut Hill holiday parades organized by the Chestnut Hill Development Group. That was when Santa came down the Avenue riding on a 1950s Ford pickup, surrounded by children. Although he didn’t grow up in Chestnut Hill, Tilley loved hearing Tom Amodie’s and other merchants’ stories about parades of the past.

Plans for the parade include post-parade celebrations. The parade ends at Market at Fareway (formerly Chestnut Hill Farmers’ Market) with musical performances around its outdoor fireplace. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Choir and “Rumble,” the University of the Arts barrel drum corps, will be featured at the Fareway. There will be treats for kids, and Santa will pass out candy canes before he heads up to the Engine 37 Firehouse on West Highland Avenue. Firefighters there will be exhibiting an antique fire truck, and families are invited to take a photo on it with Santa.

“This year’s Chestnut Hill Holiday Festival has brought together many organizations to host programs to promote the Chestnut Hill Community,” said Martha Sharkey, executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business Association, the Business Improvement District and the Parking Foundation. “The Community Association’s Holiday Parade is a festive and fun addition to the weekend, bringing neighbors, friends and families to the Avenue. Many retailers will open early to accommodate parade participants and spectators. Don’t forget that parking is free on weekends and Wednesday evenings throughout the holiday season.”

Some businesses in Chestnut Hill will be offering discounts to parade participants. Chill on the Hill on East Highland Avenue is giving out free hot chocolate to all parade marchers, Mica is offering 10 percent off brunch, Neidermyers Poultry in Market is giving 10 percent of any purchase of $20, and Ten Thousand Villages is offering 25 percent off any one item. Many other businesses are offering discounts to parade participants.

Tilley is appreciative of Sharkey’s and the businesses’ support for the parade.

“This is really great for the whole community,” said Tilley. “The kids are so excited to march. The businesses will get new visitors, and all corners of the community come together for a morning of holiday fun.”

Pulling the community together is the root of this parade. It has been important to Tilley throughout his tenure as president of CHCA to offer programs that appeal to all different community groups and appeal to both children and adults. Like the spring Hoops Madness, the parade attracts “teams” of schools as well as organizations such as the Chestnut Hill Hospital.

Whether or not your child or community group is participating in the parade, all community members and visitors are welcome to view the parade on Germantown Avenue.

For any questions please send an email to

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