- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Santa Claus rolled into North Beach in style last weekend as the seventh annual Beaches holiday parade, recently renamed the Pat Carpenter Holiday Parade, celebrated the holiday season with community leaders and members alike.
Renamed in honor and memory of its founder who died March 3, 2012, the Pat Carpenter Holiday Parade ran Saturday along North Beach’s Bay Avenue, starting at about noon from First Street and ending at Seventh Street with “Santa on the Beach,” where children sat on Santa’s lap and shared their wish list items.
Floats from local organizations, schools, churches, local businesses, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, community leaders, marching bands, antique cars, motorcycles and the Beach Buccaneers were among the 127 participating organizations in the parade. Individuals threw candy and beads from their floats or vehicles into the crowd as children and families cheered and collected as many goodies as they could carry.
This year’s announcer was Bill Chambers, president of the Arts Council of Calvert County, and the parade’s first grand marshal was Sally Donaldson of the North Beach House and Garden Club. Among the community leaders in attendance were Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert, Prince George’s), Del. Mark N. Fisher (R-Calvert), North Beach Mayor Mark Frazer, Chesapeake Beach Mayor Bruce Wahl, Calvert County Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R), Commissioners’ President Pat Nutter (R) and many others.
The parade began seven years ago when the Bay Business Group, an organization of 125 small local businesses, started to discuss ways to work with the North Beach House and Garden Club, which has traditionally held the holiday event “Santa on the Beach” for many years, and bring more of the community together for the holidays. Pat Carpenter, a former president and board member of the BBG, suggested the parade and coordinated it for five years.
“She was a great organizer,” Lynda Striegel, former president and ex-officio of the BBG, said. “I knew if anybody could do it, she could do it.”
“She was very instrumental in putting together the very first parade and seeing that it continued to grow,” Frazer said of Carpenter. “The highlight was the tribute we were able to pay to Pat Carpenter. This is a fine legacy she leaves to both the Beach towns.”
After her death, the BBG asked her husband, Bob Carpenter, to keep the parade going.
“Pat grew up in a family that was very civically involved,” Chesapeake Beach Town Councilman Bob Carpenter said. “When Pat and I moved to Calvert County in 2002, we immediately got involved in the community. … The parade grew out of that sense of community.”
Bob Carpenter said in the beginning, there were more participants in the parade than there were people watching it. Since then, the parade has grown in participation and popularity. This year, an estimated 1,000 people attended to watch the parade.
“It’s fun because it really ushers in the season,” he said. “But it also is fun to go to the parade and see the little kids’ faces because they’re just in awe.”
Striegel said she thought this year’s parade was the best yet, especially because of the weather.
“All of us who knew Pat thanked her for the great weather,” Striegel said.
Following the parade, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and some helpful elves assisted children as they lined up to sit on Santa’s lap on the boardwalk beside the Christmas tree. A special mailbox was also available so children could send their letters from North Beach to the North Pole.
“It emphasizes the small-town nature of what we have, which is our biggest asset,” Striegel said of the parade. “It’s a lot of fun for the parents, but especially for the children.”