Don’t rain on his parade

By on June 24, 2015

Criswell returns as grand marshal

Bob Criswell, chairman of the Lions Club Independence Day Committee, will be the the grand marshal July 3. (photo by Stephen Seeber)

Bob Criswell, chairman of the Lions Club Independence Day Committee, will be the the grand marshal July 3. (photo by Stephen Seeber)

After a one year break due to bad weather, the Lititz Fourth of July Parade is back and will be held July 3.

Bob Criswell was supposed to be last year’s grand marshal, until it rained on his parade. He will complete the task this year.

Criswell was selected by his fellow Lions Club members to lead the parade as a tribute to his service to the event. He’s been parade chairman for the past 14 years. It will be a proud moment for him.

“I love Lititz,” he said. “It’s the most fantastic town there is. The Lions Club has given me a way to give back to the town, as parade chairman. To be asked to be grand marshal in the parade … it means a lot.”

And with the park focusing on the ‘50s and early ‘60s rock and roll era, Criswell’s dancing days adds to the fun. Back when he was 17 and living near Pittsburgh, Criswell and his cousin would take a train to Philadelphia to be on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. He remembers seeing The Supremes in 1962 and meeting the host, who he referred to as “a real gentleman.”

“It was a very small studio,” Criswell recalled. “It looked bigger on TV, and it had schoolhouse bleachers and a small dance floor. Dick Clark sat up there on a stool at the podium, and most of the acts lip-synched.”

Even The Supremes, who were “great,” according to Criswell.

Lititz has been waiting two years for the return of its Independence Day Parade, so don't miss it next week!

Lititz has been waiting two years for the return of its Independence Day Parade, so don’t miss it next week!

“I loved to dance,” he recalled with great fondness.

A version of the American Bandstand set will be recreated in the park, at the Oehme Gazebo, as part of this year’s celebration on July 4.

But back to the parade, and this year’s grand marshal.

Criswell’s professional background is in jewelry, which brought him to Lancaster County in the 1970s, and he owned a shop at Park City for a number of years. He retired in 1997 as an executive buyer for Boscov’s. He joined the Lititz Lions Club about 18 years ago, and soon became chairman of the Fourth of July Parade.

His two-member committee includes Amanda Cassel, and they have their work cut out for them each year. At the time of this interview, 80 parade participants were registered, many of which have multiple units.

While this parade will not feature any high school bands, music will be heard throughout downtown Lititz. The Moravian Trombone Choir will perform in its first Independence Day parade. The Rajah String Band from Reading, Lititz Community Band, and the Dixieland Jazz Band will also be playing.

The July 3 parade starts at 6:30 p.m. at Kleine and Broad streets, and will follow the usual route &tstr; south on Broad to East Marion Street, eastward to South Locust Street, north to East Main, and then east to the square. At that point, the parade breaks up and heads to Lititz Springs Park for the Flamin’ Dick and the Hot Rods concert. Food will be available in the park, and there will be a special tribute to local veterans and emergency personnel (see related story on this page).

Remember, there is no rain date for this parade. Criswell said, scheduling a rain date for an event like this is just too difficult. So, the plan is to hold this year’s parade as scheduled, on what will hopefully be a sunny day.

And with that sun, it will also be Bob Criswell’s chance to shine.

“I think it will be emotional,” he said. “It makes me feel good to know this parade makes so many people happy. That makes me happy.”

Stephen Seeber is the associate editor of the Record Express.

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