12th Annual Christmas on MacArthur: The Biggest Ever
Principal David Hudson, the heart and soul and grand marshal, of Christmas on MacArthur.
by Charles McGuigan
The 12th Annual Christmas on MacArthur held Saturday, December 10 was the biggest ever drawing a crowd of about 3,000 people. More than 4,000 toys were collected for Toys For Toys. Since its inception the sole benefactor of this event has been Toys for Tots, the Marine Corps annual toy drive.
Hours before the parade began, more than fifty vendors selling hand-made arts and crafts set up their tables on both sides of MacArthur Avenue. Folks arrived early and began shopping well before eleven that morning.
Appearing live on the MacArthur Avenue stage directly after the parade were The MelBays, The Taters, and Janet Martin. The massive professional stage the musical artists performed on came courtesy of Main Stage Productions and Lee Johnson, a close friend of Jimmy Tsamouras of Dot’s Back Inn. The sound system was from David Schieferstein who also operated it, and the results were flawless.
The parade, which formed at nearby Holton Elementary School, included hundreds of participants and lasted for almost an hour. The following is an abbreviated list of the parade’s many participants: Jonathan the Juggler, Honor Guard of the Boy Scouts Troop 498 and Cub Scout Pack 498 along with Bellevue’s own Charles Pyle; Marines of Hotel Battery, 3rd battalion; the Linwood Holton School Band; the Tuition Monster; Bellevue Security Patrol; Bellevue Security Dog Walk Patrol; Ring Dog Rescue; RPD K-9 Unit; John Marshall High School Marching Band; Varina High School Marching Band, alpacas from Rockville Alpaca Farm out in Hanover; “Nutzy” the Flying Squirrel); Saint Andrew’s Legion Pipes & Drums; Benedictines Cadets; Holton Safety Patrol; Holton SCA; North Richmond YMCA ’s Indian Princesses Cayuga Tribe joined by their brother tribe the Mighty Waccamaws; and the Holton Honor Society.
Then came the ACCA Shriners portion of the parade with ATVs, potentates, clowns, a mini-patrol (large men in small cars that belched a haze of gasoline fumes), a patrol of Harleys and the Million Dollar Band, which was a hundred years old last year.
The King and the Queen of the parade rode with Bob and Vera Kocher. There were lots of vintage cars courtesy of Still Running Magazine and local owners.
And, of course, the heart and soul of Christmas on MacArthur and the entire North Side community, Holton Elementary School Principal David Hudson, who was dressed to the nines behind the wheel of his classic 1989 Mercedes Benz.. Santos of Zorba’s Pizza tossed a disc of pizza dough from the backseat of his Mustang convertible. Jonathan Austin, juggler, magician, comedian—the consummate entertainer who was born, bred and buttered right here in Bellevue—wowed the crowds with his unparalleled feats
At the end of it all, Snowflake, a miniature horse, pulled a cart that held Bellevue’s own Santa Claus and his elf. Snowflake and his kindred were bred to haul coal out of the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. They’ve got the build—though not the height—of draught horses and can pull a load of half a ton.
The entire parade was emceed by Richmond legend Bill Bevins, the voice of the Soft AC Morning Show on Easy 100.9 FM.
Just after Santa took to his throne outside of Samis Grotto (he would listen to the wish lists of 75 children through the afternoon), an old friend told me that this parade was larger than any Christmas festivity of its kind she’d ever seen in a small Virginia town. But that’s what Bellevue is—a town. And for the next four hours people strolled MacArthur Avenue, paying homage to the locally owned businesses, purchasing arts and crafts from the more than fifty vendors that lined both sides of the street, and just chit-chatting and whiling away a sun-drenched afternoon in early December.
Christmas on MacArthur ultimately benefits Toys For Tots. It is the single largest donors to this annual toy drive in Central Virginia. It’s great to give.
Here’s what one of our local business owners (Tammy Kelley of Appliances on Lakeside) recently wrote me: “This has become our very favorite Christmas activity. We first started by wanting to match the number of toys donated. As you know these boxes do not always fill up as we would like. That being said, we made the decision to spend a certain amount of money to fill the Toys for Tots box. Upon arriving in the toy department at Target, I got the idea to get the children in the store shopping with their parents to select toys for our basket. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun it is to watch children shop for others. One year I had a little girl give us her gift certificate.”
None of this would have been possible without the hard work and commitment of David Hudson, Jimmy Tsmouras Mike LaBelle, Chris and Cecelia Rich, Bob Kocher, Bobby Shore and Rich Richardson, Chris Egghart, Amy Foxworthy and Josh Carlton, Claire McGowan, Samis Grotto, John Whiting, Larry Brown, Joe Stankus, Teri Phipps and David Schieferstein, Santos Conterreras, all participants in the parade, all the vendors, and scores of other volunteers too numerous to mention. And, of course, everyone who attended. Our many thanks.
Merry Christmas from all us in Bellevue