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Halloween parade was a ‘Thrill’ Emcee shares his thoughts on this Lions Club tradition
By: STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff, Staff Writer
Downtown Lititz was packed Monday night for the annual Halloween parade, and a group of young dancers stole the show with their rendition of Michael Jackson’s "Thriller."
It was a festive fall atmosphere for the community event, hosted by the Lititz Lions Club. Pumpkin pie sales were brisk and the judges (Judy Mentzer, Trudy Hahn and Barbara Shenk), stationed at Sturgis Lane, had some tough decisions to make. But in the end, they awarded the first place grand prize to the spirited choreography of the Lititz Academy of Dance.
With rain threatening earlier in the day, the decision to move forward with the parade as planned was made Monday morning, when the Lions’ parade committee met with Lititz Police Chief William Seace.
"The parade is on, rain or shine," said Lion Dan Barkume.
While fellow Lion, and event emcee, Mark Hough was pretty busy on the main stage during the event, the Record Express caught up to him after the last bits of candy corn were swept from the streets.
"You always worry about the weather, and last night was no exception," he said in summary. "There were a number of calls to Lions members on whether or not it was a go, but we took a chance and it worked. It’s always fun as we’re setting things up to watch parents and grandparents putting down chairs and blankets to save a spot. Slowly the people start showing up, and Main Street becomes a huge sidewalk. It’s just a terrific fall event for the community."
An event such as the Lititz Lions Halloween Parade can’t be done without the masterful stylings of a seasoned emcee, so we asked Hough to answer a few questions about the experience:
Record Express: What is the key to being a successful emcee, and what’s the hardest part of the job?
MC Hough: Well, I don’t think I’m very good at it, especially when I am trying to fill the shoes of Bill Dussinger Sr., who was the emcee for many years and did a fantastic job. The hardest part is to try and recognize how kids are dressed and to poke a little fun at myself and to try and make everyone feel a part of the festivities.
Record Express: Does the emcee ever get any candy?
MC Hough: The judges, as well as the emcee, get plenty of candy, and I think that’s to sway votes; however, mine doesn’t count. Baby Ruth was my favorite as a kid. I’d freeze them, and when they were good and frozen get a glass of milk and see how many I could eat before I got sick.
Record Express: Talk a little bit about the preparation for the parade. I’m sure most people are unaware of the amount of work that goes into it.
MC Hough: All service organizations do a fabulous job in the community. The Lions Club is no exception. We start around 4 p.m. getting things set up for our food stand. Members show up with pumpkin pies, and the dogs are put on the grill. Then things just start to happen. Lititz Car Company provides the roll back for our judges stand, Clair Global provides the sound system, and Hendricks’ Flowers provides the flowers for our members of the Halloween Court. You don’t always know how it happens; it just does.
Record Express: What costume or float caught your attention last night?
MC Hough: I guess any Disney princess outfit is always special, as my daughters wore those when they were little, so that always takes me back. But this year a mother and daughter were dressed as Glenda, the good witch of the north, and Dorothy. I just thought that was very special for the two of them to participate together.
Record Express: What is the best costume you’ve ever created or worn as a child or adult?
MC Hough: A couple of years ago my wife and I borrowed "tacky tourist" outfits from friends of ours and wore them to the parade. Let’s just say if we were flying somewhere as tourists, the airline would have required us to purchase two seats each.
Record Express: At what point did you know the Lititz Academy of Dance was going to win the grand prize?
MC Hough: They were really prepared and the music was great. I think at some point in everyone’s life, those who grew up with Michael Jackson music and heard "Thriller" for the first time always tried to get the dance steps down. The girls did a great job, and the crowd around the viewing stand had a positive response. I also asked the judges at Roma’s last night how they did.
Record Express: If there’s any unsold pumpkin pie at the Lions refreshment stand, who gets the leftovers? I know some journalists who would like to get in on that.
MC Hough: We get to a point where we just hand it out until it’s gone. Even when we try to give it away, people still want to make some kind of donation, but if we’re ever in a pinch I’m willing to help eat a slice or two … or three.
Record Express: What will be your most memorable moment of Halloween Parade 2011?
MC Hough: I really thought it was great that both the Warwick Field Hockey and Warwick Boys Soccer teams participated in the parade. Both teams won the Lancaster-Lebanon Championships this year, but what’s more important is they’ve both been such great supporters of each other’s programs, and I think those are the characteristics we want to see out of our kids.
Record Express: What will you be doing on Halloween, Oct. 31?
MC Hough: My wife and I are looking forward to being home and passing out candy to the kids, and if I can find something to wear I may do a little trick or treating myself! More HALLOWEEN, page A17