Thousands lined the streets as the 42nd annual Shirley-Mastic Christmas Parade kicked off Sunday.
Families huddled together on sidewalks to watch the parade make its way down Montauk Highway from the Southport Plaza Shopping Center in Shirley, to the Mastic Fire Department on Mastic Road.
Arleen Weissbach, 64, of East Patchogue came out to the parade to see her grandson march with the Mastic soccer float.
“It’s my first time here,” she said. “But I’m excited. I heard it’s the biggest parade in Suffolk County.”
She was right.
“There are over 4,000 people that line Montauk Highway for the biggest parade in Suffolk County,” said Mark Smothergill, president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mastics and Shirley.
Fred Towle, co-chair of the Chamber of Commerce, said over 60 organizations marched or rode floats in the parade including local bands, fire departments, veterans, teachers and Girl Scouts.
“We got lucky, it’s been great weather,” Towle said. “It’s a great event and a great way to kick off the holiday season.”
Towle said each organization that participated in the event donated $7,000 to $8,000 to help sponsor the parade.
“We also have to thank Steve Larner of Kohls. His business is hurting today during this Christmas season to help out the community in continuing this event,” said Smothergill.
As floats and marchers in the parade passed by the Manor House, a bar and restaurant on Montauk Highway, they stopped in front of the review stand to perform.
With Christmas songs playing in the background, the William Floyd High School cheerleaders, the Legworks Dance Studio and Long Island Blue Jays Drum & Bugle Corps. marching band stopped to perform. Parade goers applauded, took photographs, whistled and screamed out to their children or friends.
“We also have a Chamber of Commerce float honoring our past chamber president, Barbara Giaccone, who passed away a couple of weeks ago,” said Smothergill. “Today, we are also honoring six grand marshals. It comes at a time when we remember the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, and are honoring those who volunteer to protect, and those who have served. We also have our varsity football team float, after they just won their Long Island Championship game. We have a great sampling of youth.”