Town tradition

Santa Claus is coming to town. In fact — in one of likely many trips this holiday season — he is coming to Selbyville, along with marching bands, commercial floats, antique cars and fire trucks for the annual Selbyville Christmas Parade.

The parade will begin at 7 p.m. tonight at town hall and, despite some predictions of some unruly weather, participants plan a half-mile march past the judging station at Mercantile Peninsula Bank, where refreshments and snacks will be served throughout the evening.

“It’s an important community event,” said Amy Tingle of the Bethany Fenwick Chamber of Commerce, which has helped organized the event for four years, since absorbing the Selbyville Chamber. “It really gets people out to celebrate the holidays. We think it’s important to keep this long-standing tradition going.”

While the Selbyville Christmas Parade tradition is by all accounts “long-standing,” officials are not quite sure how long. Tingle guessed that the event has attracted Selbyville residents and visitors for 48 years. Kevin Lynch — a 46-year-old Selbyville businessman and president of the Selbyville Chamber of Commerce before it disbanded, who helped organize the parade for years with the Chamber — remembered attending the parade as a child.

“The parade probably went on for as long as I can remember,” said Lynch, now the owner of Selbyville Pet and Garden, who also served on a committee organizing this year’s event. “I was raised here and I’m 46 now. I know it was going before I was 16. It’s a good event.”

Despite minor changes — such as the loss of Santa’s house, where he would entertain children for pictures in the weeks leading up to the celebrated holiday — this year’s event seems to be as anticipated as ones previous.

Judges from a professional judging group out of Pennsylvania will rate parade contestants in commercial float, non-commercial float, adult marching unit, fire company antique, fire company overall, custom cars and trucks, youth marching unit, antique cars, and marching bands categories. More than 50 participants had registered by Monday, a number consistent with previous parades.

First-place winners in each category will earn a trophy, and second- and third-place finishers will be awarded a certificate tonight for their efforts. The Overall Dazzler — a best-in-show award — will be awarded, as voted by the judges, to the premier act of the evening. That top winner will receive a trophy and a $100 cash award.

And behind all of the participants, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance as the last attraction of the parade. Despite forecasts of some bad weather, officials predicted that the Clauses and the nearly 60 other attractions will draw their usual hefty following.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Tingle said, “but we should have quite a few people.”

“It’s a tradition,” Lynch said. “It draws a lot of people to the town. Unless there’s a deluge,” the parade will go forward.