By Sheryl Roadcap
PIQUA — The Piqua Holiday Parade, to be held in the downtown, is set to return on Saturday, Dec. 2, beginning at 2 p.m.
The parade is a family-friendly event featuring bands, drill teams, floats, antique cars, fire departments, youth groups, churches, clubs and civic organizations. Mainstreet Piqua has been hosting the Downtown Piqua Holiday Parade for over 50 years.
This year’s theme is “Holiday Heroes” and is part of the Holiday Experiences in Piqua this weekend, which features Christmas on the Green on Friday, Dec. 1, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Six members of the Piqua Fire Department are being honored during the parade for their heroic efforts during a summer traffic crash. They will be the grand marshals of the parade scheduled to roll down Main Street on Saturday.
Firefighter/paramedics Jackson Karakis, Brandon Lavy, Drew Maas, Robert Gerodimos, Tyler Beard and Capt. Doug Stewart were presented with Meritorious Service Awards from the city of Piqua for their actions after an Aug. 18 crash at the northbound rest area on Interstate 75 that involved a vehicle and a semi-tractor trailer. The passenger vehicle became wedged underneath the truck.
Piqua firefighters will lead the parade as the second unit, following the Piqua Police Department.
Bikers for Benefits plans to return to the parade as well, which includes dozens of motorcyles. John Emrick, organizer of the Piqua-based Bikers for Benefits group, said he expected 60 to 100 motorcycles to participate in this year’s parade. Members of the nonprofit group who are not on motorcyles will be walking along side the bikers to hand out candy, stuffed animals, toys and stockings to the children watching the parade.
“I started Bikers for Benefits in 2012 along side David Martin and the late Sheryl Sage, and I haven’t looked back. And as every year, my brother Brian Emrick is right by my side. After a couple of years, we brought aboard Dana Huff, and she is a huge part of the controlling of the elves and getting things in order. Weather permitting, the parade and support and donations get bigger and bigger every year. We’ve had as many as 100 bikes and as little as 40 bikes participate. When you add 10-15 walking biker elves, we make this parade a priority every year,” said Emrick. “The roar of the bikes in the parade is just the beginning of what makes this Christmas parade great. Handing out stuffed animals and stockings filled with candy is a joy as well. Most importantly, watching all the children’s smiles as they receive such a small animal or toy makes it all worth it. Not to mention, the adults and elderly seem to enjoy it just as much. Thank you to Mainstreet Piqua’s Lorna Swisher for welcoming us in 2012 and year after year since. Merry Christmas!“
A few hours later when the sun sets, those in the downtown will notice Piqua is all a-dazzle this holiday season with a brand new festive look, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Mainstreet Piqua and the city of Piqua, said a Mainstreet Piqua press release.
City of Piqua workers have diligently worked to adorn trees in the square with the new holiday lights. Paul Heintz, president of the Mainstreet Piqua Board, expressed gratitude, stating in the release, “We are so thankful to the city of Piqua for partnering with us on this very important community project.”
The plan to invest in the updated look for the square was spearheaded by a committee led by Dr. Jim and Cheryl Burkhardt. Committee members included Michelle Perry, Barbara Schmidlapp, Kyle Magoteaux, Spencer and Megan Peltier, Beth Kazer, Cathy Oda, Steve Schmidlapp, Chrissy Gary, Jim Roth and Greg Blankenship. City representatives included Paul Oberdorfer and Chris Schmiesing. The group has been meeting since late January.
The new lights were paid for by donations from individuals, families and businesses to Friends of Mainstreet Piqua and the Mainstreet Piqua beautification committee.
“This project has been a true collaboration between the public and private sectors,” Jim and Cheryl Burkhardt said in the release. “The city has provided many hours of labor to decorate the square for the community and we are so thankful for their extraordinary commitment. Huge thanks also goes to the many families and individuals who supported this project with their donations.”
The square decorations include new tree lights and lighted trunk wraps as well as a large lighted star sculpture east of the gazebo that will provide a “stunning backdrop for family photos and selfies.’
The downtown has been glowing with the new holiday lights and decor since the city’s grand illumination of the square on Nov. 11.
Friday evening’s Christmas on the Green will feature horse-drawn carriage rides, children’s activities and live entertainment. Mainstreet Piqua encourages attendees to “enjoy the beautiful new lights downtown. Stop in and visit downtown Piqua’s many stores to choose the perfect gift for your loved one.”
Mainstreet Piqua will also host the Holly Jolly 5K/10K run the following Saturday, Dec. 9. For more information on the the run, call Mainstreet Piqua at 937-773-9355.