Masses brave cold, enjoy Berlin parade

Masses brave cold, enjoy Berlin parade
Dave Mast

People jammed into the Berlin square and along Main Street to celebrate the annual Berlin Christmas Parade on Friday, Nov. 26. The event included the parade, a candle-lighting ceremony and Christmas caroling.


For many people around Holmes County, Christmas doesn’t officially start until they get a chance to hear the herald angels sing, witness Mary and Joseph carrying the infant Jesus, and hear the real Christmas story.

Fortunately for them, Christmas got a head start the day after Thanksgiving during Christmas in Berlin, which meandered down Main Street on Friday, Nov. 26.

For an event which began with such humble beginnings, the parade has grown to humongous proportions. Camels, shepherds and angels roamed the streets of Berlin as they walked to the main stage on the square in search of the nativity setting that featured the greatest gift to mankind: the birth of Jesus.

For the merchants, promoting the love, joy, peace and hope of the nativity story that begins with a journey and ends with the greatest gift is something that will always be the focal point of the event.

Berlin Merchants member Doug Burgess said living in a community that values faith makes the decision to keep that theme central an easy one.

“The concept of Santa and giving is cool, but in the times we are in, we really need to give thanks for the sense of hope and joy from the nativity story,” Burgess said. “Christmas can be about the fun of giving gifts, but it really needs to be about spending time with family and valuing the relationships we have. We really feel like this event helps bring us back to that ideal, and it also serves as a way for many people to kick off the Christmas season.”

Joining the merchants for the celebration were thousands of Christmas parade visitors who gathered along Main Street for the event. Even though the temperature plummeted to below freezing, the parade didn’t disappoint, warming the hearts of those in attendance.

Not even the freezing temperatures could keep people away from this Christmas tradition.

“The turnout was amazing,” Burgess said. “It was bitterly cold, but that didn’t stop people from celebrating the parade.”

The parade began at Shiyah Market, where all the parade participants gathered before their trek to the center of town, and featured live animals from The Farm at Walnut Creek including camels, donkeys, sheep, horses and more as they joined biblical characters such as the three magi, angels, shepherds and carolers.

Once at the square, the event turned its full attention to the live nativity of the Christmas story with a candle-lighting service that always brings a Christmas appeal to the evening.

Grace Church Pastor Larry Kaufman welcomed the mass of people who braved the cold weather while John Schmid led the people in a series of Christmas carols. Kaufman then gave a short meditation and read the Christmas scripture, followed by the candle-lighting that lit up the square in Berlin and warmed the hearts of those in attendance.

“One of the greatest things about this evening that I enjoy is that we all come together as a community to celebrate the arrival of Jesus,” Kaufman said. “There is so much darkness and stress in the world today, and it is so chaotic. This helps us remember that God is still sovereign. Amidst all this craziness, God continues to give peace through the person of Jesus Christ.”

The reading of the Christmas story, carols and the lighting of the Christmas tree all invoke images of what that first night must have been like in the little town of Bethlehem as a newborn baby rested in a manger, something the Main Street Merchants decided long ago to commit to during the service.

The Berlin Main Street Merchants have worked hard to keep this parade seeped in biblical principles, and you won’t find Santa roaming but rather the simple message that a new King had arrived on Christmas morn.

“It’s a way to rally together around the Gospel and around the birth of Jesus,” Kaufman said. “While there was nothing glamorous about that nativity birth, it serves as a way for God to reach into the world and say the Gospel is for all of us.”

Schmid said of the festivities, “We can all use goodwill right now, and this celebration helps bring us all back to the central purpose of the season.”

Burgess said the event is a credit to all the volunteers who make it possible, from the parade participants dressing up in character to the live animals and the people who help organize the parade. He said it takes a great deal of work, but it is something people are excited to experience, and he said the merchants are grateful to everyone who made it another special night.

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