Biggest nighttime parade east of Mississippi River back for 92nd year

Alsatia Club, volunteers prepare for Saturday's Alsatia Mummers' Parade 2017

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - The biggest nighttime parade east of the Mississippi River is rolling through Hagerstown Saturday night.

For 91 years, the Alsatia Mummers' Parade has wowed crowds with marching bands, hand-crafted floats and costumes galore, and club members expect to continue the tradition this year.

“It’s one of the few things in the county that everybody is touched by one way or the other. Either you’ve watched it, either you’ve been in it, your children have been in it, your grandchildren have been in it, or you were tied up somewhere in traffic because of it,” James McCleaf II, Alsatia Mummers' Day Parade, Chairman, said.

People who enjoyed watching the parade as a kid are now members of the Alsatia Club, dedicating their time at Bester Elementary School setting up for the festivities.

It's a tradition that has lived on for several decades.

“It’s an annual reunion with my old friends. Some of these guys I don’t see unless it’s this time of the year,” Russell Neff, Alsatia Mummers' Day Parade, Judging Chairman, said.

“When you go through the parade route, you can sometimes see the same people sitting in the same spot every year, watching the parade. So, it truly is a homecoming to Hagerstown, and that’s what makes it so special,” McCleaf II said.

Each year, the Alsatia Club tries to bring something new to the table, and 2017 will be no different. For one, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan will be there, but that’s not the only surprise.

Aside from the festivities, club members said it is all about giving back to the community.

“This is not some kind of money maker. This has absolutely nothing to do with that. It’s all these individuals coming together to give a gift back to the community; something that everyone can enjoy,” Neff said.

“Many of us are retired or some of us are retired, and we have people of all walks of life that belong to our club. They always tell us every year that they don’t know how we do this, but we get it done every year,” James McCleaf I, Alsatia Mummers' Day Parade, Formation Committee Member, said.

The parade starts promptly at 6 p.m. at the north end of Hagerstown.

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