’Twas the month before Christmas 2007 when 6abc’s Adam Joseph started emceeing the West Chester Christmas Parade. After a two-year break, he’ll be back in that role when the parade returns on Friday, December 2. Festivities kick off at 6:30 p.m. with a tree lighting at the old courthouse. It’s all part of Chester County Hospital Lights Up Holiday Weekends in West Chester, which run through January 2.
Joseph is a native of the Boston suburbs, which had a memorable Independence Day block party and parade. “The West Chester Parade is a flashback to all that,” he says. “When I think of the Christmas holiday, the West Chester Christmas Parade is where it all begins. From a single guy taking my nieces and nephews, to a married guy, to a family guy taking my own two kids, this has been a tradition of mine for well over a decade.”
Joseph’s husband, Karl, grew up in Media. With help from their two kids, 6-year-old Hannah and 8-year-old Jacob, they decorate their Main Line home with miles of lights and a grand tree for Christmas—in October. “We want to enjoy it for more than a few weeks,” says Joseph.
The whole family was distraught when the parade was cancelled during the pandemic. It made them appreciate Joseph’s role in the event even more. “I’m sure the kids think it’s cool that Dad gets to emcee,” he says. “We try to teach the gratitude behind it.”
Another highlight of this year’s parade is bound to be the Treehouse World float custom built for Santa. Katie Walker, president of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, came up with the idea. And Mark Yoder, chief revenue officer at Treehouse World and a former GWCCC president, ran with it. “I’ll never forget the day they sent me the CAD drawing and added a cartoon Santa,” says Walker, whose organization hosts the parade each year. “It’s nice to work with Adam again, too.”
This year’s 60 live parade elements include hundreds of local performers traveling a mile-long loop along Market and Gay Streets in the heart of West Chester’s historic district. As always, spectators can expect marching bands, dance teams, cheer squads and more, culminating with the arrival of Santa “on his most unique display ever.”
West Chester’s latest Santa is Kevin Stevenson. Originally from Glenmore, he’s lived in Downingtown for 62 years and started playing Santa at the tender age of 22. “Warren Mercer had been the West Chester Santa, and he helped me get started with a suit and all,” Stevenson says. “When he retired after five years, I stepped in. I’ve been there ever since. I got to light the West Chester Christmas tree in 2021, making a grand entrance out of the doors of the courthouse.”
Stevenson has seen his new float and plans to give it a test run before the actual parade. When COVID upended the parade in 2020, he did virtual visits with kids via Zoom. “I’m not technically savvy though,” he admits. “It’s nice to see so many people celebrating in person again.”
Visit GWCC.org for more information on the parade.