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Howard-Suamico Christmas Parade turns 50

By Ben Rodgers

HOWARD – A Christmas-time tradition in the area is turning 50 this year.

The Howard-Suamico Christmas Parade, presented by the Howard-Suamico Optimist Club, returns at 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1.

Gary Rozmarynoski has helped chair the parade for the past 15 years. At one point in time it nearly ended.

“I was on the committee two years before I took over and we were deciding if we wanted to keep doing it,” said Rozmarynoski, parade co-chair with Mike Kirschling, Jeff Devroy, Paula Pyle and Christina Kabara.

It’s a good thing the Optimists decided to continue because the parade has become a tradition for many, especially children, which is who the Optimists aim to help.

Every year Mount Olive Church has participated, local high school bands march down the streets and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts keep coming up with creative Christmas float ideas.

“We didn’t want to let it die so I said I’d take it and I’ve been with it for 18 years,” Rozmarynoski said. “It’s been fun and it’s mostly logistics.”

The event is now held in conjunction with the Optimist’s annual Breakfast with Santa event, held before the parade from 8-11 a.m. at the Bay Port High School Commons.

The breakfast is free for children under 12 and $7 for anyone over 12.

“It’s a Christmas ritual for some families,” Rozmarynoski said.

The parade now starts at Bay View Middle School, heads down Cardinal Lane, to Glendale Avenue, back up Harwood Avenue over to Woodale Avenue and ends back at the middle school.

This two-mile route has been used for the past five years or so, because it doesn’t tend to back up traffic and stays in a residential area, Rozmarynoski said.

Prior to that, the Optimists staged the parade one year at Bay Port High School, but the weather didn’t cooperate.
“It was so cold people sat in their cars and watched the parade,” Rozmarynoski said. “The people who handed out candy went up to people in their cars and gave it to them.”

About a decade ago the parade started and ended up where Howard Commons is currently being built.

The Howard-Suamico Christmas Parade was started in 1968 by the local Knights of Columbus, and no one is exactly sure when the Optimists took it over, sometime in the early to mid ’70s.

Now the KCs are getting involved again to plan to do some of the work redirecting traffic the day of the parade.

The clubs will be assisted by the Howard Police Department, which has gotten efficient with blocking off streets.

Parade sponsors are Optimist Club in cooperation with the villages of Howard and Suamico, the Howard-Suamico Business and Professional Association, the Duck Creek VFW, the Howard Sunrise Rotary Club and the Howard Lions Club.

The parade, which was recognized by the State Assembly in 1988, typically draws around 70 entries.

There is no cost to enter and floats can win one of three prizes: Best of Show, Best Theme and Most Beautiful.
Celebrating 50 years, this year’s theme is The Golden Years.

Application are available at hsoptimistclub.org or by emailing [email protected].

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