WELLSBURG -Firefighters have been a regular participant in the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade -and a favorite among younger parade-goers - and this year they will play an even more prominent role in the procession.
Eric Fithyan, the event's new chairman, has announced the theme for this year's parade is "A Salute to Firefighters" and the grand marshals will be the chiefs of all Brooke County fire departments.
Units will line up at 4 p.m. Friday at 22nd Street near Eagle Manufacturing, a short distance south of its previous staring point near 27th Street, and the parade will begin at 5 p.m., proceeding south to the Wellsburg Town Square.
Free refreshments and photos with Santa Claus will be offered on the square. Parents and guardians may pick up the photos at a date and place to be announced. It's also a good time to view the square decorated and lit at night.
Fithyan said firefighters deserve to be recognized during the parade because they regularly put their lives at risk to protect citizens.
In addition, Debbie Baker will appear with Fithyan and others on a float in recognition of her years as organizer of the Wellsburg Christmas and Independence Day parades. Baker continues to chair the Wellsburg 4th of July Committee.
Fithyan said he and other members of the parade planning committee have made an effort to involve groups of various ages, so representatives of senior programs will join local dance schools, the Brooke High School marching band and other units.
"We will have a lot of new faces and a lot of new businesses that haven't been in the parade, so we're really excited about that," he said.
Serving as sponsors for the parade are WesBanco, Chambers and James Funeral Homes, Eagle Manufacturing, Main Street Bank, Reasner Funeral Home, Ohio Valley Medical Center/East Ohio Regional Hospital, Aladdin Signs, City Plumbing, Heating & Supply, First National Bank, Mountain River Physical Therapy, Subway, the Basil Center, Wilkins Flower Shop, Action Images, Fahey Insurance, McDonald's, Traubert's Pharmacy, Tom Brown General Contracting & Handyman Services and Wellsburg Auto Sale.
Visitors to the town square following the parade also can help the Bernie's Kids Toy Drive. The grassroots effort was begun by the late Bernie Kazienko, a former Brooke County sheriff and commissioner, and is being carried on his son, Kirk. The drive has provided toys to many children of Brooke County families in need. With the help of his wife Carrie and others, Kirk is holding a series of drawings for gift baskets to raise funds for the toy drive. The drawings will be held on the town square following the parade, but winners need not be present. Tickets are $5 each or five for $20. They can be purchased at Traubert's Pharmacy or by contacting the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce at (304) 479-2115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The prizes are a wine basket with wine and glasses, Sarris candy and other snacks and gift certificates for Brooke Hills Park; a holiday basket with a Steelers Troy Polamalu T-shirt, Terrible Towel, gift certificates or cards for Brooke Hills Park, Subway and DiCarlo's Pizza, wine and various snacks; and a sports basket with an official National Hockey League Penguins Kunitz jersey, Steelers T-shirt and hat, Brooke Hills Park gift certificates and snacks.
Donated toys may be dropped off at that time or at the Brooke County Courthouse, the Crooked Dock, Hard Times, Reasner Funeral Home, Wellsburg Dollar General, Robert Scott Lumber, Main Street Bank, Progressive Bank and First National Bank of Wellsburg.
The group also is selling the 2014 Enjoy coupon book, which offers discounts at various businesses. The book is $40 and may be purchased by calling (304) 975-1075 or Kim Miller at (304) 737-3251.