|By Amy Salvagno
C & G Staff Writer
Once blessings have been acknowledged, turkey
and stuffing labeled as leftovers, and jingle
bells and festive carols welcomed, the Village
streets come alive with Christmastime.
From bright banners and boisterous marching
bands to flashy floats and eight flying
reindeer, nothing greets the holiday season
quite like a decades-old, after-Thanksgiving
tradition: the Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parade.
Santa Claus sticks around
Santa will be visiting several shops
following his appearance at the
Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parade
From noon to 4
p.m. Nov. 23 and from 11 a.m. to 4
p.m. Nov. 24, he will greet children
at Village Toy Company. From 3-7
p.m. Nov. 30 and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Dec. 1, he will be at Village Ace
Hardware. On Dec. 7, from 10 a.m.
to 2 p.m., he will be back at
Village Toy Company and then stop
over at Hickey’s Walton Pierce from
3-7 p.m. Dec. 14 and 11 a.m. to 4
p.m. Dec. 15.
In its 32rd year, the Kercheval Avenue
procession, to be held on Nov. 23, promises
again to sprinkle out to sidewalk-sitters the
first of yuletide spirit, especially with the
arrival of the white-bearded, jolly figure
aboard his special sleigh, featuring soaring
reindeer and picturesque scenes from around the
More than 50 community groups will take their
place along the parade route, from loyal golden
retrievers and their owners to Brownies and Cub
Scout troops. The Detroit Fire Department Clown
Corps, along with 10 high school marching bands,
return this year, joined for the first time by a
few new participants, including the Friends of
the Belle Isle Aquarium and their watery float.
According to parade director Terri Berschback,
preparations begin in late August, though very
early on, she is able to choose floats by the
Parade Company, the Detroit-based nonprofit
responsible for producing America’s Thanksgiving
Parade. The six attractions each depict a
different holiday on a search for Christmas —
and they were responsible for setting the My
Favorite Holiday theme for the Paint the Window
Contest in May and the adult version at Grosse
Pointe’s Greatest Block Party.
Berschback begins with raising money and then
slowly, Parade Central — a.k.a. her basement —
is up and running. On one wall, she has mapped
out the route and color-coded sections of
marchers with Post-it notes, making sure to keep
the motorcycles away from the horses and the
dogs away from the fire engine and its siren.
The basement is also crammed with 100 banners,
fleece jackets and Santa hats for 125 people,
and 85-90 pieces of conduit.
“You’ve got to be rather flexible,” she said,
noting that her part-time position is actually
quite fun — except for the shifty weather. “The
next job I get is going to be indoors. I’ve
worked through record cold, pouring rain — if it
ended up being a bright, sunny day, I don’t know
what I would do with myself.”
On parade day, Berschback hops on a golf cart
and meets up with the groups at the staging area
at Lewiston and Kercheval, along with the parade
marshals assigned to different sections. Often,
she wizzes back and forth until the show starts
moving and then heads to Kercheval to make sure
it’s all running smoothly.
“It goes from mass chaos to ‘wow.’ It’s nice to
watch the crowds watch the parade.”
This year, along with the new Parade Company
floats, Berschback said there are two special
guests who will make an appearance. But that
surprise won’t be revealed until they show up on
the parade route.
Ellen Durand, president of the Village
Association, whose family has long owned Village
Toy Company, says there’s a reason the parade is
treasured and looked forward to each year.
“It’s certainly the biggest community parade I
think I’ve seen with a small town flavor. If
you’re not in the parade, you’re watching the
parade. Everyone comes for it,” she said. “It’s
tradition and tradition. I have the same
families that come and sit in front of my store
every year, and now they’re brining their
The Pre-Parade Festival, featuring the Magic of
Nick, will be held at 9:45 a.m. on Kercheval,
between Cadieux and Notre Dame. The parade,
presented by Pentastar Aviation, with funding
assistance from Henry Ford Cottage Hospital,
Crest Volvo, and St. John Hospital and Medical
Center, begins at 10 a.m.
At 4:30 p.m., the Authentic Dickens Carolers,
presented by JP Morgan Chase, will appear in
concert at the corner of Kercheval and St.
Clair. At 5 p.m., Mayor Dale Scrace will light
the Village Christmas tree, followed by a
holiday sing-a-long with the Carolers and
complimentary hot chocolate from the Grosse
Pointe Boat Club.
You can reach Staff Writer Amy Salvagno at
firstname.lastname@example.org or at (586)