November 25, 2013 (Wampum, PA) When the fire whistle blows at 1 pm on December 7th, hundreds of red, green and white balloons will break free into the Wampum sky and the procession of fire trucks, floats, dignitaries, mascots and bands will begin the hour-long colorful procession through the little town. To most observers, Wampum’s 41st Christmas Parade will appear as energetic as always but behind the scenes the parade committee has had a bittersweet planning experience. Rose Cody, Parade Committee Secretary for 30 years and described by Parade Chairperson Donna Kuiken in an interview last year as “her right arm”, became ill in 2013 and passed away on October 14th.
The loss was so significant that Kuiken and her committee decided almost immediately to dedicate this year’s parade to Rose. “We used to say that one day the whole committee would travel to the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena . . . well that’s not going to happen. But this year our Parade will celebrate our own Rose, Rose Cody.”
Kuiken, who is chairing her 24th parade, cannot calculate the impact the loss of her friend has had on the parade, but is grateful for community members who have stepped in to make the parade a success. “Rose loved this parade.” Donna shared, “It was important that the parade continue– we’re doing it for her this year – and I have a lot of help!”
As a tribute to Rose Cody, volunteers will hand out single silk roses to the crowd and Marshall’s Funeral Home is lending an emerald green car that will display signage commemorating Rose’s life. Except for the driver, the car will be empty. When that vehicle reaches the judges stand, family members will shoot off ceremonial confetti cannons.
Even though the committee feels sorrow, Kuiken said that all are committed to making this a brilliant parade for everyone who turns out. “We have new floats that we are very excited about and so many small children are taking part in the parade this year!”
Grand Marshall for the 2013 Parade is Annie Boyer, a local charitable volunteer who has raised thousands of dollars to offset the day-to-day costs local cancer patients and their families face. Her fundraiser for Rose Cody earlier this year raised nearly $1,000. “Annie is beloved by many in Wampum and this year in particular it is fitting that we honor her as a Parade Marshall,” noted Kuiken.
Sponsors for the parade include the Wampum Christmas Parade Committee, Wampum Woman’s Club, Wampum Area Lions Club, Wampum American Legion Post 749, American Legion Auxiliary for Post 749 and the Wampum Area Business Association. Anyone wishing to participate or make a contribution can call Donna Kuiken at (724) 535-8353