Truth be told, no one really knows exactly when or how the Shanghai Parade in Lewisburg got started.
But that doesn’t really matter, because the annual New Year’s Day celebration continues to draw thousands of fun-loving folks downtown—and they are never disappointed.
The popular event requires no preregistration, and those walking in the parade do their best to outdo one another with outlandish costumes and floats, according to organizer Dr. Mary Ann Mann, who has chaired it for 26 years.
She said it harkens back to post-Civil War days, and may have come from folks traveling to each other’s homes during the holiday season. They may also have worn costumes just for fun, too.
As per another tradition, each person walking in the parade still gets a $2 bill, but nobody knows just why.
“It really is whimsical, and you never know what to expect so that only adds to the fun. The good news is that we’ve never yet run out of money and everyone has been able to get their $2 bill,” she said.
Even after all these years, there’s no other New Year’s Day parade like it in the state.
Entries ranging from llamas wearing pajamas to tractors may be part of Sunday’s celebration that begins at 2 p.m.
Although it’s always a surprise to see how many walk the Washington Street route, there usually are a few crowd-pleasers who take part each year.
The parade lineup starts with “Baby New Year” and is a cherished tradition, since it’s actually the city fire chief dressed in an oversized diaper and furry slippers. Another year, the police chief dressed up as a nurse, complete with high heels.
It ends with the honorary parade marshals, known affectionately as the Super Duper Pooper Scoopers, have the honor of cleaning up after the animals.
“One year some local men were on riding lawn movers and trying to do all the same moves that you see when Shriners ride their little cars in a parade. They came down the street in formation, and even did their signature Figure 8 formation. It was so funny,” she said.
There are usually 50 to 60 parade entries, and there can between 2,000-2,500 people watching when the weather is good.
“Everyone is welcome. And if you feel like it, just hop in the parade and get the New Year started with some fun,” she said.