Sponsor a child

Greencastle Halloween Parade hits a roadblock

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There have been more tricks than treats for the Greencastle Halloween Parade for the past two years, and third time is not the charm of the annual procession, which seems to have reached the end of its long road.

The Greencastle Exchange Club, who led the parade for about 25 years, announced that he was no longer able to sponsor it. Factors in the decision include a change in the day and time the borough council would allow the parade, dwindling parade registrations, and a lack of manpower.

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“At this time, the Halloween Parade will not take place unless another organization wishes to continue this tradition,” reads a statement from the club, which adds that anyone interested should contact the borough office.

If another group shows up, the Exchange Club is ready to advise on parade logistics and provide cash prizes, according to president Marsha Coleman.

What’s been going on with the Greencastle Halloween Parade lately?

The parade did not take place in 2020 because the club was unable to meet COVID-19 mandates, Coleman said.

He was back for 2021 until a forecast of 100% heavy rain and wind gusts reaching 30mph forced the last-minute cancellation of the in-person event. The club pivoted to a virtual Facebook parade and handed out prizes for individuals, groups and floats.

Last year the parade took place, it drew 20-30 entries, compared to a peak of 50.

Membership of the Exchange Club has also declined, from around 25 when it took over the parade from the VFW in 1999 to 11 today.

“Without 100% involvement from everyone at our club, we can no longer logistically manage this project,” Coleman said. “Most of our projects can be done with four to five of our members.

The parade traditionally takes place on the last Friday evening of October. This year, the borough council rejected the request for Friday evening October 28, approving the parade on Saturday October 29 at noon.

“The council’s concern was a potential conflict with the rain date for Trick or Treat being the same night as the requested parade,” according to Borough Manager Emilee Little. Greencastle’s Trick or Treat night will take place on Thursday 27th October.

“This potential conflict was considered a public safety issue given the number of people attending the parade in addition to a significant amount of foot traffic related to Trick or Treat,” Little said.

It’s another Borough Council change that involved the Exchange Club in the parade in the first place.

The parade has been sponsored by Harry D. Zeigler VFW Post 6319 for decades, dating back to at least the 1950s. It moved from the VFW through the Square and back to the VFW, but in the late 1990s the borough a wanted to change the route to avoid closing Baltimore Street, according to Mike Bock, president of the Exchange Club at the time.

With the borough and the VFW at an impasse, Bock said it was important to keep the tradition going for children in the community and the Exchange Club stepped in.

What does the Greencastle Exchange Club do?

The children of the community remain the focus of the Exchange Club today.

“The Greencastle Exchange Club is a group of volunteers who work together to make our community a better place to live through service programs in Americanism, community service and youth activities,” Coleman said. “We hold a variety of activities throughout the year to give back to our community by investing in our children.”

Her biggest project is buying and delivering Christmas gifts to more than 200 area kids, and her biggest fundraiser is the Christmas Golf Tournament in July, according to Coleman. The club also benefits from the Mason Dixon Chili Cookoff or Steak Competition and community donations.

The club also has:

  • Recognizes a middle school student every month with the “Young Citizenship Award”
  • Buy and distribute flags at the Veterans Day Ceremony
  • Distributes cookies and hot chocolate at Heritage Christmas
  • Create personalized children’s books for all first year pupils at Greencastle-Antrim Primary School
  • Provides hot dogs and serves ice cream from Mikie’s at the Greencastle-Antrim Middle School social
  • Offers two scholarships of $2,000 per year for seniors at Greencastle-Antrim High School
  • Provides gift cards to Greencastle-Antrim High School English Prize winners
  • Buys lanyards and certificate holders for year five pupils at the Greencastle-Antrim Primary School Awards Ceremony
  • Participate in Old House Week by purchasing and distributing small flags during the parade and helping with the funfair at the playground

The Exchange Club is looking for new members. The club hosts a dinner meeting at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month at the Fireside Pub and at 7:30 a.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month. Anyone interested in joining can attend a meeting, contact Maggie Labutta, club secretary, at [email protected] or go to Greencastle Exchange Club on Facebook.

Shawn Hardy is a reporter for Gannett’s Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania – Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro, and Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has over 35 years of journalism experience. Contact her at [email protected]

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