Monday, January 22, 2018


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Santa is Coming to Town – With a Little Help from Some Friends
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor

            Many hands makes the workload light.  The old saying is true, and when those "many hands" are family and friends that bring about an accomplished task year after

year, it ends up being more than a job well done - it becomes tradition.

            This very special time of year most of us anticipate a visit from the jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus.  Whether that visit is in our hearts, minds, or the wisp of a fond memory, seeing St. Nick is the trigger to many a smile.

            This writer recently had the opportunity to drop in on one of Santa Claus' most trusted helpers in the area, Tom Spaar. It is Tom, along with his family, friends, and a host of community volunteers who have been a major part of Santa's local army for the past eighteen years.

            That's how long the current Spaar family members have been involved in the area Christmas Parade, bringing Mr. and Mrs. Claus through the boroughs of Red Hill, Pennsburg, and East Greenville.

            I say the "current" Spaar family because Tom's father, Kurney Spaar, began this annual Santa trek back in 1952 and continued it for more than 30 years.  Now, Tom and his family keep the tradition alive.

            Even Tom's hospitalization two years ago didn't stop the parade as his son Matt took over his father's duties for the event.

            Just like when Kurney was at the help of the parade, the sleigh had to be modified to run on wheels (not much snow around here in early December).  Instead of cold-weather reindeer, sturdy horses pull the honored visitors and their sleigh for the three-mile parade.

            With Santa's world-wide responsibilities, he can use all the help he can get to bring a little cheer to all who believe.

            Once again this year's parade will begin at the Red Hill Firehouse and proceed north on Main Street, through Pennsburg and into East Greenville where it will end at the East Greenville firehouse.

            Don't worry about carbon monoxide fumes from the exhaust of vehicles in the parade because this is an all-animal procession.  Animals of all makes, shapes, and sizes march in this parade, with only their best "people friend" to guide them.  More than 100 animals take part in the parade.  It's something Tom and his family started and it has become a hit in this community.

            But that's all for us – the viewers.  What does it take make it happen?  Santa shows up on Sunday for the festivities, but it takes a group-effort to make ready for the visit from the big guy.

            Tom was busy giving Abby, his 20-year-old draft horst, a good brushing on my visit.  At 17-hands high, she's been a star in the parade for some time, having the honor of pulling Santa and his sleigh.  She will again be wearing the same sleigh-bells that Kurney put on her predecessors so many years ago.

            In the paddock stands nearly two-year-old Gus (named after Tom's grandfather Augustus) who will soon take his place in the parade.  Augustus once owned the Hereford Hotel, which was a popular spot for a variety of horse shows in the early 1900's.

            Prior to Gus, the Spaar family purchased horses that were already-name by the sellers as Stormy, Prince, Abby, Ash, and Rose.  Coincidently, the first letters of the horses spell-out the Spaar family name.  A fitting coincidence. 

            A recent makeover of the sleigh has given it a luster that reminds us that a new beginning can happen anywhere to anything.  The combination of time and talent provided by the crew at Pennsburg Auto Body and Tire along with the skill of Mike Schultz on the upholstering and Garry Jobson on the pin striping and graphics will help provide extra "eye-candy" for parade-watchers.

            It takes so much more to make the event a success and Santa's helper, Tom, has lots of loyal help.  To lighten the load on Santa, Blommer Chocolate donates the candy bars handed out at Santa Land.

            Another part of the parade is the luncheon held for parade participants afterward.  In years gone by, Tom's mother would make chili and other goodies to serve the hungry marchers.

            Today, DME Auto and Custom Trucks of Quakertown (Milford Township) donates hot dogs and rolls to treat the participants.

            The boroughs of East Greenville, Pennsburg, and Red hill donate money towards the cost of the oranges handed out along the parade route.  A task made harder, and more expensive, this year due to the hurricanes that damaged the Florida Orange crop.

            This year's oranges will come from California at cost of $1,700.  The fruit will be purchased from a fundraiser held by the Oley Valley School District Future Farmers of America (FFA) – a worthy cause to support.

            No task or responsibility is left undone.  An empty trailer at the end of the procession is there to provide a ride for any animal or human who tires during the march.  At the end of the parade are the broom and shovel handlers whose job it is to clean up after the parade.

            Donations from business and private citizens help fill in the gaps for the rest of the expenses.

            Tom pointed out that none the Hometown Christmas Parade would not happen without organization and promotion.  For this he thanked his wife Catherine and community activist Liz Herman for their enthusiastic and tireless efforts.

            The parade is a Spaar family tradition and Santa pointed out that "It is just amazing to see all these people and they're there because of you."





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