By Ryan Smith
Members of the Crawford Area Young Chamber of Commerce decorated for Halloween on Thursday night, embellishing the atmosphere with lit-up Jack-o’-lanterns, orange-and-black balloons and streamers.
They even gave out homemade candy apples.
But trick-or-treat wasn’t the theme of the local organization’s Halloween-in-June gathering at the Safari Bar: The theme was parades — Meadville’s 46th annual Halloween Parade, to be precise.
And the theme of the 2012 parade — decided Thursday night for this year’s Oct. 27 event — is ... “Cartoons on Parade.”
When it comes to interpreting that theme into float form for the traditional community contest (a key feature of what is the largest nighttime parade in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania), “the more creative the better,” said parade co-chair Erin Struchen of the CAYCC.
“I’m imagining a mix between some of the old-school and ‘Saturday morning’ cartoons” as well as floats inspired by some “more modern-day” cartoon icons, said Meghan Cressman, another CAYCC member who, along with member Reagan McClellan, is also serving as one of this year’s parade co-chairs. As far as possibilities for entries to the friendly competition, “it’s (a) really broad” arena, she said.
Last year’s parade theme — “Through the Ages” — opened the door to everything from cave dwellers to astronauts. In 2010 — when CAYCC estimates put the crowd of spectators at around 25,000 — entrants embraced the parade’s “Treasure Island” theme (there was even a float that featured a confetti-firing cannon).
But those themes — and all that came before them — were chosen solely by parade organizers, according to CAYCC. This year, though, the group let the parade’s local sponsors decide.
Hence the black ballot box on a table at Thursday night’s gathering. It was there that around 20 local sponsor businesses, groups and organizations cast their votes for the theme, choosing from three previously brainstormed concepts: “Cartoons on Parade,” which organizers said quickly became the clear winner, “Around the World,” and “Stars and Stripes.”
In past years, some parade sponsors have “felt very strongly about what they want (the theme) to be,” said Cressman, so the CAYCC decided this year to “give them the opportunity to do that” by vote.
The parade co-chairs said Thursday’s gathering also gave the organization’s members the opportunity — in some cases, for the first time — to personally meet and socialize with some of those who regularly support the annual event, as well as make connections with newly interested businesses and organizations. After so many over-the-phone-only conversations between event planners and local sponsors, “it was really nice to be able to put some of these faces together with a name,” said Cressman.
Formerly known as the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the CAYCC is an independent, public organization — made up of volunteer members between the ages of 21 and 40 — which, through a variety of community engagements, “exists to provide a network for career-minded individuals to develop socially, civically and professionally” in and around Crawford County, according to the group’s official mission statement.
Doing that — and presenting events like the annual Halloween Parade — takes a lot of help, input and support from the local business and civic communities, and “we appreciate all of it,” said McClellan. “We couldn’t do any of it without them.”
Ryan Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meadville’s 46th annual CAYCC Halloween Parade is provided by the Crawford Area Young Chamber of Commerce. An independent, public organization (made up of volunteer members between the ages of 21 and 40) which “exists to provide a network for career-minded individuals to develop socially, civically and professionally” in and around Crawford County, according to the group’s official mission statement.
The group meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce offices at 908 Diamond Park. In addition to the annual Halloween Parade, the group organizes the annual Christmas tree pickup in the City of Meadville as well as other activities and events around the community.
To find out all the ways you, your business and/or organization can support and get involved in CAYCC projects and efforts, visit caycc.org and facebook.com/Crawford Area Young Chamber of Commerce.
To sponsor, register and/or find more information specific to this year’s parade, visit meadvillehalloweenparade.com.