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New Rochelle Thanksgiving Parade Soars

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Thousands of spectators turned out on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon to watch marching bands, dancers, sports clubs and schools, and more at the Annual New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce Thanksgiving Parade. Among the highlights, the debut of large inflatable balloons of Mighty Mouse, Frosty the Snowman and Mr. Potato Head and, of course, Santa Claus.

Led by an honor guard from the New Rochelle Police Department, local politicians and city leaders kicked off the parade, 30 minutes late due to a medical emergency after a woman collapsed 100 feet past the start line. New Rochelle Mayor Noam Brandon was joined by Council Members Jared Rice, Barry Fertel, Al Tarantino, and Ivar Hyden. Other local leaders included City Manager Chuck Strome, Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and George Latimer, State Assemblyman Steve Otis and County Legislator Jim Maisano.

Despite some concerns, the balloons were inflated and carried, by volunteers, without incident under street lights, wires, traffic lights and an overpass.

“The most exciting addition to this year’s parade was a giant balloon for each division,” says Mr. Marrone, “And who better than our own Mighty Mouse to kick it off.” 

Mighty Mouse floated past the historic “K” building that housed the Terry Toons studio from 1930-1971 where he was created along with other animated cartoons like Heckle and Jeckle and Hector Heathcote.  The Terrytoons library was purchased by the CBS Corporation, which will also have a presence in the parade.

Doug Crane, an illustrator who worked at Terry Toons for 8 years and drew Mighty Mouse, among others, was invited to ride in a float as a guest of honor.

This year’s Grand Marshall, Frank Bernabei, is a lifelong resident of New Rochelle. As Recreation Supervisor since 1994 his responsibilities include the city’s tennis and adult softball programs, which are two of the largest municipal recreation programs in Westchester. In 1990 he cofounded the company Patchen-Bernabei, Inc., specializing in event logistics and was instrumental in developing the JP Morgan Chase “Corporate Challenge Running Series” into one of the largest and most successful running series in the world. 

Other parade participants included Iona College, The College of New Rochelle, Monroe College, the Boys and Girls Club, the Salvation Army, Webster Bank, FunFuzion, Suburbia Roller Derby, Peruvian folk dancers of Embajada Latina, The New Dawn Foundation, Boy and Girl Scouts and more.