By Peggy Mackenzie
The 2015 Shanghai Parade promises to be one for the ages. Fire Chief Wayne Pennington and Police Chief Tim Stover, both of Lewisburg, have been “triple-dog dared” by Pennington’s daughter to once again brave the winter morning chill and be exposed as the cut-ups they once were 30 years ago on New Years Day in the Shanghai Parade.
Pennington, after a two-year hiatus, will reprise his role as Baby New Year and once again take the lead down Washington Street in Lewisburg’s time-worn, annual New Years Day parade, wearing only a diaper and a sash. Stover, posing as his nursemaid nanny, in white stockings, a wig, and a nurse uniform, will be attending to Pennington’s every need, including daubing him with baby powder and keeping him on a leash as they sashay down Washington Street.
It will be worth attending the parade for this sight alone.
Pennington has been a parade regular as Baby New Year for 27 years from 1989 to 2011. Stover portrayed Father Time for a couple of years, but his role as Pennington’s nursemaid is by far the more memorable one. It was Col. John Ford, in charge of the parade those many years ago, who first dared Pennington into posing as Baby New Year, and Pennington slyly hooked Stover into the nursemaid role.
As long-time friends, the chiefs joked that since they are both nearing retirement age, it was time to resurrect their crowd-pleasing antics one last time.
The Shanghai Parade has been celebrated for over 150 years as part of Lewisburg’s storied past. In researching the name Shanghai, the term comes from “collie-shanghai,” an old word related to making a lot of noise. At one time, the parade was held at night on New Years Eve. It was originally a costume parade featuring revelers in scary disguise who went about with both candy and switches resembling other midwinter rituals, including mummers plays and Mardi Gras parades. In modern times, Shanghai has incorporated floats, music, horseback riders, antique cars, farm equipment, and other elements of conventional parades.
The Shanghai Parade takes place along Washington Street in downtown Lewisburg at noon on New Years Day. You’re invited to bring your most eccentric costume for this historic happening; anyone can participate, with registration occurring the morning of the parade.
Don’t let the day slip by sipping egg nog in your jammies by the fire, as tempting as that may be. Come out and enjoy the spectacle-Chiefs on parade!