It's been a tradition in Lansdale every November for 62 years, and it's been known by one festive name — Mardi Gras Parade.
Wait, Mardi Gras is celebrated in February, centered around New Orleans.
Why do they call it "Mardi Gras" in Lansdale?
According to Lansdale Historical Society, the parade originated in 1950 on Friday, Dec. 1. At the time, the Jaycees and the Lansdale Merchants' Association held a community-wide contest to name the parade.
Entries were poor, and they chose "Mardi Gras" because it was the best of the lot, according to the society.
There was talk of trying again in 1952, but "Mardi Gras" stuck.
In the first parade in 1950, $1,200 in prizes were awarded and 1,000 people participated, according to Dick Shearer of the Lansdale Historical Society. The crowd numbered about 10,000.
In 1951, the crowd numbered 15,000 people.
As stated above, the parade was organized by the Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) and the Lansdale Merchants' Association, of which Jack Clemens, of Clemens Markets fame, was a key principal.
While we have Little Miss Lansdale today, back then, they had a Mardi Gras Queen, chosen by popular vote, Shearer said.
Today, Santa is ushered in via fire truck at the end of the parade. In the 1950s, Santa arrived via train at Lansdale Train Station and joined the parade, Shearer said.
In 1951, the Mardi Gras Parade coincided with the grand opening of Madison Parking Lot.
According to a July 2008 article in The Reporter, parade organizer Leigh Ann Tursi also said the "Mardi Gras" name began with the now-extinct Lansdale Jaycees.
The organization wanted to create a Christmas parade, she was quoted in 2008.
The Jaycees members picked a name "that sounded like fun." Mardi Gras, she said, "just stuck."
Each parade features awards for Best Marching Band, Best Talent and Best Antique Vehicle, for instance.
The parade kicks off in Lansdale at 1 p.m. on West Main Street, between Mitchell Avenue and Memorial Park, a length of around one-and-a-half miles.
It also marks Santa's arrival to Lansdale Borough, who will return again Nov. 30 for the Christmas Tree lighting in Railroad Plaza.
So not Lansdale Christmas Parade? Holiday Parade? Mardi Gras is a uniqueness cherished for years by Lansdale.