BEVERLY — The Beverly Holiday Parade made history last year by not being held for the first time since it began in 1947. Organizers are planning to make history for a much better reason this year.
Parade committee chairman Al Temkin said Sunday’s 73rd parade will be the largest ever in terms of the number of people participating. and organizers are also expecting a record crowd of spectators, he said.
“We’ll probably have the biggest crowd on Cabot Street that we’ve ever seen,” Temkin said.
Temkin’s optimistic outlook is based on the theory that people are excited to get back to traditions that have been taken away by the pandemic. The Beverly Holiday Parade had been held every year since 1947 until last year’s cancellation due to COVID.
The parade is scheduled to start Sunday at 1 p.m. at Beverly High School. It will travel a 1.7-mile route that heads down Cabot Street, past a viewing stand at City Hall, and down Broadway to end at the Beverly train depot.
Temkin said more than 50 groups are scheduled to march (or ride) in this year’s parade, which is a record.
“I think it’s the pent-up demand,” Temkin said. “Any opportunity that people get these days to be out and be together and have some fun, I think people are just jumping at that opportunity.”
The marching bands from Beverly, Danvers and Salem high schools are all scheduled to participate, and a barbershop quartet will perform at City Hall.
The parade will honor Beverly’s front-line and essential workers. The Beverly-Salem Post 331 baseball team that made it all the way to the American Legion World Series will also take part. Boston Red Sox mascots Wally and Tessie will be back, as, of course, will Santa Claus. Members of the First Baptist Church will be collecting food donations for Beverly Bootstraps.
Beverly police Chief John LeLacheur said police have emphasized security over the last few years and will be doing so again in the wake of Sunday’s incident in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where a driver drove into the city’s Christmas parade, killing five people and injuring 48.
LeLacheur said police have been taking extra precautions at big events since a driver drove through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in France in 2016. Those precautions include using large vehicles to shut down roads and block key intersections. LeLacheur said he always drives behind the parade to make sure no traffic is encroaching.
“We’re pretty well-versed and well-planned on what we do,” he said. “Like anything else, you see what happens in other areas and you learn whether you can do things better.”
Staff Writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.