Hundreds of hot dogs and buns had already been purchased. Gallons of steamers had been prepared.
And hundreds of people had spent weeks preparing dozens of floats.
The cancellation of Saturday’s widely popular Mummers Parade due to a freak October snowstorm disappointed more than the thousands of people who turn out to watch the procession down Hagerstown’s Potomac Street.
For many organizations, the parade is the focus of their biggest or only fundraiser of the year as churches, Boy Scout troops and others operate concession stands and sell seats to the spectacle.
“Well, I was skeptical at first,” Scoutmaster Hunt Hardinge said of learning the parade was canceled. “As the day wore on, I thought it was a good decision. It just was a very nasty day, it turned out to be. From a financial or fundraising point of view, I was pretty disappointed,” said Hardinge, whose Boy Scout Troop 10 is sponsored by Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The troop operates a food stand, sells seats along North Potomac Street and rents parking spaces behind the church to raise money for troop activities and equipment, Hardinge said.
The parade activities — the troop’s sole annual fundraiser — typically raises about $1,500 or more. So, now, troop leaders will have to regroup to make other plans and finalize refund decisions, he said.
“We’ll probably at least have to give people the option to get their money back. It wasn’t their fault they couldn’t attend,” Hardinge said.
“It’s just disappointing for everybody,” said James McCleaf II, the Alsatia Club parade chairman.
“It was kind of the perfect storm (that) came together, and we didn’t know what we were going to get,” McCleaf said.
The bleachers near Bester Elementary School were too wet to be removed this past weekend, so McCleaf said he expects them to be taken down this Saturday.
Although the snow stopped falling by early evening Saturday, many people involved in the parade must start hours earlier, McCleaf said.
The parade is a fundraiser for many groups, including the Alsatia Club, and provides an opportunity for people to get together, McCleaf said.
Otterbein United Methodist Church in Hagerstown had 24 people working for at least a month to get the church’s float ready for the parade, said Cindy Brown, the church’s program director.
“They’re disappointed, but we surely understand that for safety reasons it was the wise decision, to cancel,” Brown said.
Brown wouldn’t reveal the float’s theme — the team disassembled it with the idea of using it in next year’s parade.
Saturday’s snowstorm dropped a heavy 3.7 inches of snow that left at least 22,000 Tri-State-area customers without power, as trees and limbs heavy with autumn leaves fell under the additional weight.
Food already bought
By the time the decision to cancel the parade was made on Saturday morning, some groups had purchased food and beverages for concessions stands.
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on South Potomac Street usually raises $2,000 to $3,000 for its youth group through concessions and parade seats, Pastor Ed Heim said.
The nacho chips, cheese and the ingredients for country ham sandwiches had already been bought, and the steamers made, said Heim, whose wife, Janet, works for The Herald-Mail.
“We tried to sell as much as we could Sunday morning (to parishioners) cause we couldn’t sell it Saturday,” Heim said.
Heim said he expects some people who bought seats will call for refunds, which the church will honor because the parade was canceled, Heim said. Or they could consider their purchase a donation to the youth group, which proceeds were going to benefit, Heim said.
He said the church will make some money, but “certainly nothing like” what it would have made if the parade had gone on.
Zion Reformed United Church of Christ on North Potomac Street sold 400 seats to the parade and purchased supplies for its concession stand, church Administrator Susan Younkins said.
Younkins said she was hopeful that the church would have enough money from returning prepackaged items such as coffee, soda, bottled water, and snacks, that it could refund seat purchases by the end of the week.
The approximately 200 hot dogs bought for the concession stand will be served during Tuesday night’s soup kitchen, which usually draws about 100 people, Younkins said. Six gallons of steamers were frozen for future use, she said.
The parade concession and seats usually raise $3,000 to $4,000 for the church’s adult Sunday school class, Younkins said.
“It won’t be a loss, but, unfortunately, the Sunday school won’t have their income from their biggest fundraiser of the year,” Younkins said.
Refunds to be discussed
McCleaf said Alsatia Club officials will meet this week to discuss refunds and other fundraising options.
He said he didn’t see any reason not to refund the $25 float permit fee. People who bought tickets for seats from the club can call The Maryland Theatre for refunds.
Some sponsors want their money back, others don’t and some have told the club to apply the money to next year’s parade, McCleaf said.
This year’s parade will be a financial loss for the club, which has expenses such as portable toilets and mailings, but McCleaf said he doesn’t expect to know the bottom line until the new year.
The club had $3,000 to $4,000 saved from the previous two parades to help cover costs. Money raised from the parade helps cover expenses for the parade and the one the following year.
Next year’s parade comes during the 250th anniversary of the founding of Hagerstown.
“I’m hoping we can really kick something off, have something really special next year,” McCleaf said.