New participants keep annual Westminster Holiday Electric Parade fresh

A look at the floats of the Westminster holiday parade.

After years of celebrations, dozens of floats and hundreds of participants and spectators, the annual Miracle on Main Street event has become a holiday staple in Westminster, as tied to Thanksgiving weekend as football, big-screen TV sales and political arguments around the dinner table.

Each year, businesses, individuals and community organizations come together for the Holiday Electric Parade, with lighted floats glistening their way down Main Street.


For returning families, they know it’s only a matter of time before they see some old favorites in the parade, from the high school marching bands, to the dogs in light-up vests, to the Carroll County Arts Council’s marching kazoo band.

But the only way a celebration can stay a community tradition is through a steady influx of new holly, jolly blood, and this year has seen a number of participants marching in the parade for the first time.

At 10 years old, Colby Seymour may be the youngest driver in the parade, as he sat behind the wheel of a small tractor for the Carroll County Rabbit and Cavy Breeders 4-H Club for the first time. Behind him, Colby pulled his three rabbits — Mario, Princess Peach and Birdo — taking turns carefully to avoid a slow-speed calamity, like in 2015 when the parading rabbits were gently knocked onto their sides during a sharp curve.

Colby said he wasn’t nervous at all to be in front of so many people for the first time, but it does take the rabbits a little bit of adjustment to get used to zooming down the road at 5 miles per hour.

In addition to new participants from returning organizations, several new businesses decided to build their first float in order to announce themselves as new members of the community.

Allison Barnett and Angela Cox, with Contempic School of Ballet, a dance studio which opened in Westminster in January, said they made it a goal to join every community parade this year to make sure they are a fully participating member of the community they serve.

“It's been a lot of fun,” Barnett said. “We want to get involved whenever we can.”

Cox said they came up with the concept for the winter wonderland-themed float about a month ago — complete with cotton ball snowfall suspended by wires, Christmas trees and candy cane dancers — but they didn't start construction until just a few weeks ago. Cox said she was impressed with how it all came together.

For some, participating in this year’s parade has been a long time coming. This season, McDaniel College put together a holiday float for the first time in their 150-year existence in celebration of the school’s sesquicentennial.

The college decided to honor its own history by creating a large model replica of the school’s iconic Ward Memorial Arch. The arch stood over the main roadway from 1898 to 1937 when it was moved to its current location facing downtown due to expanding traffic.

Don Hobart, with the college, took over construction of the model arch, creating four interlocking pieces out of plywood left over from his woodworking business. The structure was then topped off with decorative Styrofoam, carved and painted to look like the original stonework.

As the float rolled down Main Street, singers from the college and Winters Mill High School belted out some of the most popular holiday songs of all time.

According to Cheryl Knauer, director of McDaniel media relations, this year will hopefully be the first of many parade appearances, as they look to make the parade an annual tradition. Hobart said he was glad to hear that.

“I'm glad we're doing it this year,” Hobart said. “It broke my heart when we stopped having the homecoming parade.”


Despite all of the new participants, the event still comes to a close with the same two guests of honor they’ve had since the parade first started: Santa and Mrs. Claus, who waved at the children from their horse-drawn carriage, signaling the start of the Christmas season in Carroll County.