About 40,000 people turned out for the 38th Annual QVC West Chester Christmas Parade on Friday, Dec. 1.
Hosted by the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, the parade kicked off on Market Street around 7:15 p.m.
QVC hosts Jennifer Coffey and Dan Hughes provided commentary throughout the night, while 6abc’s Adam Joseph returned this year as master of ceremonies.
Nearly 6,000 people marched in this year’s parade, with performances from over 20 marching bands, dance troupes and a variety of floats. The parade also had appearances from Cara Mund, Miss America 2018, as well as actress and singer Ashlee Keating.
President and CEO of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce Mark Yoder described the Christmas parade as a great way “to showcase this fantastic town that we live in.”
Bethany Kopp, event and program manager of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, served as assistant producer of the parade. According to Kopp, her role the night of the parade was “making sure everybody in the parade is happy” and “making sure everybody is where they’re supposed to be.”
“I usually have a control center here [at the chamber] so it’s just making sure we have enough zip ties, to making sure our band judges are fed, to making sure Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus are dressed and ready to go and I can send them off,” said Kopp.
Both Yoder and Kopp brought up the increasing size of the parade, with Yoder noting that it has “been growing almost every year” since he first became involved nine years ago.
Kopp noted that QVC taking over as title sponsor and the parade being televised has “definitely enhanced it and brought it to another level.”
“[The parade] honestly could be a full-time job at this point,” said Kopp.
West Chester University student David Beech attended the parade because he loves “the sense of community that West Chester has.”
“Holiday parades are one of the best ways to show that,” said Beech.
Aside from the free hot chocolate and candied pretzels given away on High Street, Beech appreciated the musical performers.
“I liked seeing all the marching bands,” said Beech. “I had no idea there would be so many, and they were all excellent in performance and varied in appearance and style, which made for a fun and interesting experience.”
Kopp, meanwhile, cited the audience’s joy as her favorite part of the parade.
“Especially now that I’m a parent, seeing just the glimmer in kids’ eyes, it’s two hours of just pure bliss,” said Kopp, “and that’s kind of why we do it and that’s why I enjoy doing it; watching the excitement of people and being able to pull something like this off.”
On what he most enjoyed about the parade, Yoder mentioned impressive dance troupes such as Fraternidad Cultural Pachamama as well as more classic moments.
“You can’t say you don’t love seeing Santa, no matter how big of a kid you are,” said Yoder.
The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce teamed up with WCU to do an economic impact study on last year’s Christmas parade. They found that the parade had an economic impact of $550,000.
“All those people who live [in West Chester] are taken out of the survey so the $550,000 is true economic impact of people coming in,” said Yoder. “They wouldn’t [otherwise] come to West Chester, wouldn’t have eaten dinner, wouldn’t have gone shopping into the retail shops, et cetera . . . This just shows that not only are we doing something the community loves in a parade but is also driving the financials behind it.”
For the first time since the parade’s inception, this year’s parade will air on 6abc on Saturday, Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.
Casey Tobias is a fourth-year student majoring in women’s and gender studies and communication studies with a minor in journalism. They can be reached at CT822683@wcupa.edu and on Twitter @Casey__Tobias.