By Rita J. Egan
Forget the elves! This year Santa will get a little help from members of the Culper Spy Ring when the Three Village Holiday Electric Light Parade makes its way through the streets of East Setauket on Dec. 10.
The grand marshals of this year’s parade will be the patriots that made up George Washington’s Long Island spy ring — portrayed by residents including Three Village Historical Society Historian Beverly C. Tyler as Abraham Woodhull. The grand marshals will lead the annual local favorite featuring floats and vehicles adorned with electric lights mixing the area’s historic roots with modern merriment.
Insurance agent Billy Williams took over the reigns of the parade after its cancellation in 2015. As a volunteer with the Setauket Fire Department, he heard the committee ran into some glitches that year, and while it was too late to do anything at the time, he and others joined forces to light the way for the procession in 2016.
In addition to Williams, the parade committee includes Cheryl Davey, Andrew Galambos, Michael Owen, Denise Williams, Sharon Philbrick, Andrea Allen, Scott Sanders, Julie Watterson, Carmine Inserra, Dawn Viola and Laura Mastriano.
“We picked up the pieces and put the parade back together,” Williams said, adding that he was happy when the group was able to organize the parade again this year, and that Davey and Owen, who both worked on the event in the past, offered to continue to help. Williams and other committee members had fond memories of bringing their children to the parade every year, and he participated in it as a volunteer firefighter. “It’s good for the community; it’s good for everybody. So we said let’s try to organize it and give it another go, and that’s what we did.”
Davey, who has been coordinating the parade for approximately seven years, said she was thrilled when it got a reboot in 2016. “I was hoping that if it went away for a year, maybe people would miss it and realize how special an event it is for the entire community,” she said. “I was hoping that there would be a public outcry — “bring back the parade” — and there was. And then, everybody stepped forward and said they could help. We put together a wonderful committee of amazing people who have great ideas and great networking contacts, and they rolled up their sleeves and went right to work.”
Galambos, who has attended the parade for more than a decade, said he was also delighted to see it revived last year. He said the parade is an opportunity for residents to experience something special for the holidays right in their neighborhood and for local groups and businesses to work together, adding “The parade really is a collaboration of the entire town, and all the various organizations.”
Galambos said he is looking forward to this year’s grand marshals and thinks it’s a wonderful way to educate residents, especially young ones, about the local history, adding “This parade is something that is very special because it is a celebration that is uniquely us.”
Williams and Galambos said attendees can look forward to seeing floats from the Three Village Central School District and the participation of Scout troops and various businesses from the area, including Shine Dance Studios. Both said cheerleaders, pep squad members, athletes and Wolfie from Stony Brook University will also be marching, and the parade will feature the Family Residences and Essential Enterprises Players Drum Corps, which is composed of musicians with special needs.
Participants will begin lining up at 3:30 p.m. at the Village Green by Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. For Davey, this is her favorite part of the entire event. “When they all start showing up with their floats, you’re just overwhelmed with Christmas spirit,” Davey said.
The Three Village Kiwanis Club will present the Three Village Electric Holiday Parade Dec. 10 starting at 5 p.m. The procession heads south on Main Street, turning left on Route 25A and ends at the Kiwanis Park next to Se-Port Deli. After the parade, Santa will be available to hear children’s wishes in the park’s gazebo. For more information, visit www.3vholidayparade.com.
All file photos by Greg Catalano