Christmas Parade draws huge crowd
LISBON, Md. — All involved pronounced this year’s The Great Lisbon Farmers Feed The Hungry Christmas Parade an unqualified success.
“We had more tractors and more horses than last year,” said Howie Feaga, president of the Howard County Farm Bureau, which took over the primary responsibility for the parade in 2015.
In its eighth year, parade representatives “estimated that more than 3,000 people” lined the sides of the National Road where it cuts through the historic town.
“They came from as far away as Colorado, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and, of course, all over the Maryland region,” said Alice Settle-Raskin, spokesperson for the parade.
In addition to attracting a record number of folks to view the parade, they “expect to meet or exceed our annual fundraising goal of $15,000, including pledges” said Settle-Raskin.
She also stated that in furtherance of their mission to feed the hungry, the parade “collected over 3,400 pounds of canned, nonperishable food, topping last year’s donations by over 1,400 pounds, and more than quadrupling the 800 pounds collected in 2016.”
On the Monday after the parade, that amount was distributed to The Howard County Food Bank and Carroll County Food Sunday, the Parade’s two food bank beneficiaries.
Almost 20 percent of the poundage collected, or 654 pounds to be exact, was donated on behalf of Howard County’s new FFA Chapter and the academies at the Howard County Public School System’s Applications Research Laboratory.
To facilitate the donation, which was part of the parade’s entry fee for the FFA Chapter’s “Polar Express”-themed float, Chapter members, along with the Trailblazers Club, a student leadership organization at the ARL, sponsored a competition between students of the dozen and a half academies that attend classes there.
Won by the Project Lead the Way Aerospace academy, the resulting poundage more than filled the car load hoped for by the FFA Chapter’s members.
“It was a pickup truck, plus,” said Kathy Wojcik, the Chapter’s Advisor.
During a paint session on the float the weekend before the Parade, the Chapter’s members explained how, in addition to fulfilling a community service opportunity, the float project helped them learn to work together.
Yet, more importantly, the float’s presence in the Parade gave the Chapter’s members a chance to “advertise our new academy agriculture program and that FFA is back in Howard County,” explained Colby Hough, the Chapter’s 1st Vice President.
Pointing out that “only 2 percent of folks involved in agriculture are farmers,” Ellie Feaga, the Chapter’s President, explained that part of the FFA Chapter’s mission is to educate folks about different aspects of the agriculture industry. “The goal of the program is to both bring more farmers back into the community,” continued Feaga, “and bring more folks from STEM into agriculture to encourage more innovation.”
With the FFA emblem mounted proudly on the back of the farm wagon posing as a Christmas-themed train car, the new Chapter’s members were excited to join the ranks of the burgeoning community of farmers and equestrians participating in this year’s parade.
Even the morning’s unusually cold weather, which required them to wear winter coats covering up the union suit jammies several members had worn to go along with the “Polar Express” theme, didn’t dampen their enthusiasm as they threw candies to the happy crowds lining both sides of the one-mile long parade route.
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