At Westminster holiday parade, warm weather, warm lights, warm tidings

It was an unseasonably warm evening for a holiday parade on Saturday, and there was hardly a square inch of barren curbside along Main Street in downtown Westminster as marching bands, floats both large and small, and a fire engine bedecked with a dazzling array of colored lights processed along the road.

A man followed behind the fire engine, handing out long, flashing, rainbow-colored plastic glow toys that then flashed from the sidelines like so many lightsabers.


"It's good," 9-year-old Owen Street, of Westminster, said of the Electric Holiday Parade. "I like it because there's lot's of lights."

And ample lights there were: On a pickup truck carrying a child-Santa, the Carroll County Public Library Book Mobile, a long series of tricked-out custom Corvettes and Mustangs, and floats featuring everything from a recreation of the crucifixion of Christ to a martial arts ring in which one skilled young lady demonstrated a single-leg takedown on another mid-parade.

For longtime Westminster resident Kimberly Stein, the allure of the parade, which is part of the city's Miracle on Main Street event, was camaraderie and discovery.

"It's nice to see the community come together, and you get to see parts of Westminster you would usually not know," she said, pointing to floats from various 4-H clubs and other civic organizations. "There's lots of parts to the city, clubs and such, that I have never known about, and I've been here 13, 14 years.

Stein had run in the Miracle on Main Street's Jingle Bell Mile, a foot race along the street just prior to the parade, with her friends Michael and Dianne Henderson, of Hampstead.

"I've lived here my whole life, and I've never gone to these types of events. But because I run now, I go to things like this because they have the run beforehand," Michael Henderson said.

"It's nice to see, offering the runs and there being more of a fitness element to it," Dianne Henderson added. "It's really good to see people come out with their kids and do something healthy."

People who ran the Jingle Bell Mile — or the Spooky Run and Fall Fest mile earlier in the year — were offered special seating along the parade route, right in front of the Longwell Building, according to Krista Weston. She had run the Jingle Bell Mile with a Carroll Christian Schools running group called The Running Crusaders.

"It's just a fun-run type group, very laid-back, but we always try to have a cause behind us," Weston said. "We were running for a family with a little boy, ... to pay for a nice Christmas dinner, to be able to buy some gifts."

Coming to the holiday parade is an annual ritual for Jennifer Fitzgerald, of Westminster, and her family, and the large crowd and temperate weather were highlights for her this year.

"I just think it's awesome that there's so many people out here. I guess last year it was a small crowd because of how cold it was," Fitzgerald said. "I just love it, I just love the small-town feel."

The weather was also memorable for George Arbaugh, a 51-year member of the Westminster Municipal Band who plays the trombone.

"This is the warmest weather we've marched in this time of year," Arbaugh said. "Very pleasant, very pleasant weather."

There was a time, over a decade ago, when the band would march around the parking lot of the Westminster Shopping Center, according to Arbaugh, and after that, for a time, in the mall. He prefers marching along Main Street, and playing on the Locust Lane bandstand afterward, playing for the holiday tree lighting.


"It's like what you watch on television now on the Hallmark Channel," he said. "They always have the tree in the center of the little town."