King Frost, portrayed by George Mitten of Tilden Township, made an appearance in Hamburg, riding on the back of a pickup truck along the King Frost Parade route on Saturday night, Oct. 31.
The King Frost Parade has been sponsored by the Hamburg Jaycees every year on the last Saturday of October since 1964. This year's parade was canceled due to coronavirus restrictions but COVID-19 could not stop Hamburg's tradition of King Frost heralding in the winter season.
“One of the hardest things about with the pandemic is the disruption to our time-honored traditions,” said Hamburg Borough Mayor George Holmes. “Perspective is important, however, as many of the holiday traditions we celebrate have been with us for than a human lifetime. So we must recognize that even traditions evolve and change over time. I’m pleased that we can preserve some aspects of King Frost even if there is not a large-scale event.”
His appearance was not announced in advance to keep crowds away. The Hamburg Jaycees posted on the King Frost Parade Facebook page Saturday morning that at 7 p.m. in Hamburg, King Frost himself would make an appearance around his normal “last Saturday in October” stomping grounds. “Come out of your house, and wave to him as he goes by!”
“As many of you know, today is the day that we would have celebrated the 57th Annual King Frost Parade in Hamburg! It’s been so strange for us to not be doing the normal routine this year! We hope that everyone is safe and healthy!” posted the Jaycees.
All were encouraged to follow CDC social distancing guidelines while saying hello to King Frost, reminding everyone that this isn’t a parade, “it will literally be the King, in the back of a truck, driving around hoping to put some smiles on people’s faces!”
Responses on social media were of surprise, appreciation and eagerness for next year’s full parade.
“Way to go! We gotta have King Frost herald in the season!!!” posted Tonya Clifford.
The Hamburg Jaycees shared a Facebook Live video of King Frost’s ride through the streets of Hamburg. King Frost waved to onlookers while recorded music from the Hamburg Area Marching Band played from speakers. King Frost is portrayed by George Mitten, owner and operator of The Windsor Press, Hamburg.
“King Frost was well received by the community!” said Derek Leibensperger of the Hamburg Jaycees. “He rode around town for about an hour... got many smiles from Trick or Treaters and residents of Hamburg alike.”
Lily Parr, 12, of Hamburg and Kamryn Witman, 12, of Tilden Township, both said that seeing King Frost around town was a nice way to forget the current situation we’re all in, made them feel like normal for once this year.
At one Hamburg home, another King Frost Parade tradition continued even though this year's parade had been canceled.
Sherry Christman and her husband hosted their annual King Frost covered dish family gathering, as they have every year before the parade for the past 13 years.
"It is a tradition that I look forward to every year. COVID was not going to stop it this year," said Christman. "It is really important to me that we still held our tradition this year. Why? Family and friends are everything and making memories with the ones I love means the world to me! Plus, you never know when your last day is on this earth. Whether COVID, a car accident, a health reason, etc, anything can happen in a blink of an eye. I don’t take life for granted and over the years I learned life is way, way to short. Spend it with the ones you love and make those memories!"
The goal of King Frost’s appearance was “to seem a bit normal in the midst of COVID restrictions,” said Leibensperger.
Next year’s parade will be held Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Anyone interested in participating can contact email@example.com.
King Frost Parade masked pins remain on sale at Adams and Bright Drug Store in Hamburg for $5 each while supplies last.