For the first time in New York City history, the Lower East Side will be hosting a Holiday Parade, sponsored by the Seward Park Cooperative Board, in partnership with the New York Pacemakers (an all senior citizen dance team) and the FDNY and NYPD.
The parade will be an all-inclusive holiday celebration with surprise guest appearances from Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with a Chanukah celebrant and a Kwanzaa celebrant all atop a vintage fire truck.
Susan Avery, founder of the New York Pacemakers, first came up with the idea for a “fun diverse parade” after realizing that the neighborhood she had grown to know and love, as a third generation Lower East Sider, was quickly changing.
“These days people are on unsteady ground,” says Avery. “Between the pandemic and politics, there is a lot of unsteadiness in the world, so I thought, ‘why not bring some joy to my beloved neighborhood.”
Following the Co-op Board’s approval, Avery called up Santa and Mrs. Claus (who is actually Avery in disguise), and organized the parade, which will be taking place on Sunday, December 12, at 1 pm, beginning on Grand Street & Pitt Street.
Accompanying The Clauses will be 20 of the New York Pacemakers, all dressed in festive holiday-themed costumes— including Charles Dickens’ characters, candy girls and even elves— while they hand out candy canes and Chanukah gelt (chocolate coins) and dance to the wide range of music that will be playing alongside the truck.
“We are embracing all our ethnicities of the Lower East Side, and bringing a few hours of joy to the neighborhood,” Avery says. “We will be playing music that represents Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and music in Spanish for our beloved Latino community”
It was very important to Avery—and The Clauses as she points out— that the cast of characters in the parade are inclusive and represent “the real world,” she says.
The main goal of the parade is to spark holiday spirit in everybody, and bring joy to the neighborhood, says Avery.
“Come out and say hello to Santa and Mrs. Claus,” she says, “and just know that it really is a way to bring joy to the world.”