The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 19, 2006

Organizers have visions of spirited Halloween parade


Capt. Jack Sparrow and his otherworldy crew from “Pirates of the Caribbean” will be sailing on the high seas of Johnstown’s Halloween parade.

The 38th annual parade will take over city streets at 7 p.m. Tuesday and will last about two hours.

In addition to pirates, there will be the usual Halloween ghosts and goblins, said Nancy Shull, program assistant at WJAC-TV and parade coordinator.

Another highlight of the parade will be a stilt walker dressed as a big scary monster.

Temperatures will be anything but Caribbean according to Shull’s weather forecasts, so parade participants and watchers should bundle up.

“We’ve heard that chilly temperatures from this weekend could carry over into Monday and Tuesday,” Shull said. “We have 62 units. We have Brownie, Girl Scout and Cub Scout troops, high school bands, school groups, dance and gymnastic teams and cheerleaders.”

While most school groups are from the Greater Johnstown area, bands from Chestnut Ridge and Blacklick Valley will make the trek to the city.

Shull said that having entry forms at the three dealerships of Laurel Auto Group, the title sponsor of the parade, made it easier for those who wanted to participate.

Because parade organizers are stressing safety, there will be no handing out or throwing of candy or other items.

“About 25,000 come to see the parade, and a lot of them are little children,” Shull said. “We want everyone to have fun and stay safe. Children shouldn’t run in front of vehicles, which may be decorated and have their view obstructed.”

Floats will be pulled by pickup trucks rather than the more cumbersome tractor trailers.

“The tractor trailers hold up the parade when they try to make the corners,” Shull said.

“And it’s a long parade anyway.”

Even though elections are upcoming, Shull is hoping politics can be put aside for one night so that everyone can have an enjoyable evening.

“There should be no campaigning,” Shull said.

From young to old, Shull said there is a wide cross section of people who attend the parade every year.

“For most of them, it’s a tradition,” Shull said. “They don’t want to miss it, especially if their kids are in it. Others bring their little ones and start a new tradition. Families are even making floats.”

Shull and her staff will be getting the grandstand on Main Street set up early Tuesday morning.

“The meters will be bagged on that side of the street, and we’ll bring in a truck for the telecast and for taping,” Shull said.

Everyone is encouraged to use city garages for parking, she said.

“I arrange all the work, but the ones who build the floats and participate are the ones that make the parade,” Shull said.