BETHLEHEM’S RICH PARADE HISTORY
Parades are part of Bethlehem’s long-standing history, dating back to the late 1800s. It may be hard to imagine now, but in its heyday, Bethlehem held world-renowned processions called “Gala Day Parades”. These events started during the height of Bethlehem’s Hotel Era and were the by-product of dangerous, drunken, and sometimes fatal stagecoach races that would occur on Lewis Hill Road, Swazey Lane, Cherry Valley Road, and many other neighborhoods throughout the village.
In August 1887, guests at the former Centennial House overloaded a cart drawn by two yokes of large oxen, decorated it with countless Chinese lanterns, and began a procession from the Centennial House to the Maplewood Resort, honking loud tin horns along the way. Eventually, all of Bethlehem’s grand hotels got involved and the Stage Coach Days were born. Stagecoaches and their horses would be decorated in the colors of each hotel and trimmed with paper, silks, bunting, and flowers. Some hotels would spend upwards of $3,500 (over $100,000 today) to adorn their carriages. Prizes were awarded, brass bands were marching and by the second year, a US Supreme Court Justice was the judge.
In honor of Bethlehem’s rich parade history and to celebrate the peak of summer, the folks at Bethlehem Events brought parades back to town in 2017. Now, after a three-year pandemic hiatus, the parade returns at 2 pm on Saturday, August 12th. There will be no shortage of antics, loud noises, and frivolity. The North Country’s own grassroots marching band, The Summertime Marching Band of Monroe will definitely make an appearance!
PARADE ROUTE The procession travels from Turner Street to Prospect Street. Any walkers who need a ride back to their vehicles can hold at the Gazebo Park, and one of our golf cart drivers can shuttle you, two people at a time.
ONE WEEK OUT You will be contacted one week before the event with your placement number. These numbers will be marked along the side of the Cottage, Noyes, and Turner street blocks. Please be advised this is a residential neighborhood, respect the property owners and keep the noise to a minimum.
EVENT DAY Lineup begins at 1 pm and should be completed by 1:45 pm. As you arrive, look for the volunteer check-in kiosk at the corner of Cottage and Main Street, next to the old Catholic church. Please enter the lineup area on Cottage Street so you’re facing the correct direction for parade flow and won’t need to turn around in someone’s driveway or on the narrow streets. Fire trucks and first responders will be lining up at the Bethlehem Elementary School parking lot.
Safety is always our primary concern, and we’ve established a few simple rules to keep this event as safe as possible.
- DO NOT THROW ITEMS FROM MOVING VEHICLES (instead, opt for walkers to hand items out to spectators)
- KEEP HORN BLASTING TO A MINIMUM (some entries involve music)
- Maintain a safe distance of at least 20-30 feet between yourself and the entrant in front of you.
- Please be aware of your vehicle overheating or developing mechanical issues