by Sue Ann Rybak

Despite a winter storm warning, hundreds of residents lined Germantown Avenue last Saturday to celebrate the return of Chestnut Hill’s annual holiday parade. The parade, originally sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Development Group, has not been held for more than two decades.

Philadelphia’s Mounted Police Unit led the parade, which began at Chestnut Hill Avenue. But, the star of this year’s parade, sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Community Association, was the Phillie Phanatic, who waved and shook his belly as he rode atop Chestnut Hill Fire Company Engine 37.

Amelia Terry, 2½, of Chestnut Hill, beamed with delight from the excitement of the festivities.

“The Phillie Phanatic was funny,” she said as she waited in anticipation of Santa’s arrival.

“It was a fabulous success,” said Celeste Hardester, community manager at the Chestnut Hill Community Association.

Hardester said she was worried that it was going to be “a parade that nobody came to” because of the threat of a fast-approaching snowstorm.

“It was absolutely perfect weather for a holiday parade,” Hardester said.

More than 300 people marched in this year’s parade with representatives from the Wissahickon Skating Club, the 4-H club of Northwestern Stables, the Chestnut Hill Branch of the U.S. Postal Service, Chestnut Hill Hospital and many more.

Children from several local schools, including J.S. Jenks Elementary School, Norwood-Fontbonne Academy, Our Mother of Consolation, St. Genevieve Elementary School, Springfield Township High School and Middle School and many more, marched down the Avenue singing and cheering.

Spectators were treated to a brief performance by the University of the Arts bucket-drum band that strutted along with the Venetian Club’s comic brigade. Classic cars and children’s characters, including Elmo and Rudolf, were also big hits of the parade.

And, of course, last but definitely not least was the big man himself, Santa Claus, who rode on the back of the Wyndmoor Volunteer Fire Hose #1. Thanks to the Chestnut Hill Holiday parade, Santa Claus is officially back in town. And, hopefully, the Chestnut Hill Holiday Parade is a tradition that is here to stay.

Organizers also recognized contributions by CHCA board member Bob Rossman and Chestnut Hill Hotel owners Abby and Ron Pete who hosted parade goers at the Market on the Fareway.