EARLY HISTORY OF THE FOREST RIDGE HOLLY DAY PARADE
In the spring of 2000 Kitty Preziosi and her husband, Bob, were driving through Forest Ridge, when they started recalling her great time living in Key Biscayne, Florida, and participating in the town’s annual Fourth of July parade, which has been a fixture on the island for over 50 years. After seeing her first parade right after they moved there, Kitty joined the Chowder Chompers Band – a small group of people from all generations – who had been a fixture in the parade since its inception in the 50’s. The rest of the parade was made up of various groups of local citizens in a variety of costumes and frivolity.
She then wondered if we could possibly start a similar tradition in Forest Ridge. Kitty contacted the then president of the master HOA, Linda Lee Granger, and asked her if it was okay for me to attempt to get some neighbors together to stage our first parade in during the 2000 holiday season. She said it was okay and suggested Kitty send out an email on the Forest Ridge website that was operating at the time, asking for people to come to Kitty’s house to form the first parade committee.
She did that, and was delighted to hear from two lovely ladies: Beverly Payne, who has a lifetime of Mardi Gras experience in Louisiana, and Gloria Hood, who was anxious to be a part of a community endeavor. Later that summer Beverly and Gloria came to her home for our first meeting. They selected “Holly Day” as the name to try to ensure we were not excluding any religious affiliation during the holidays.
They later met with Christine Alfieri, then the Continental Property Manager for Forest Ridge and Ridge on Nob Hill, and Linda Granger at Linda’s house to talk about the basic requirements (such as gaining support from the Town of Davie – including police for traffic safety — securing necessary liability insurance, raising funds, finding more committee members, etc.) They all agreed that while the first parade might end up being very meager, such as three women, a noisemaker and a dog or two, we were still committed to getting it started.
Linda later put out an email to her many friends in the neighborhood — including ladies who had led the preparation and staging of the annual Forest Ridge Easter Egg Hunt when their children were in grade school — asking them to join the parade committee. Soon the committee numbered 16. That committee was: Alice Barry, Denise Bell, Lee Bisbano, Marian Byrd, Sue Cashman, Roanne Disalvatore, Gina Gates, Linda Granger, Lorraine Hofheinz, Gloria Hood, Lilly Lau, Beverly Payne, Kitty Preziosi, Kathy Raines, Patti Reid, and Susan Starkey. Kitty’s neighbor, Ed Woolslair, agreed to be the unofficial “men’s committee”, assisted by Jerry Starkey.
Once the Town of Davie approved our application to hold the parade, complete with providing the police for safe traffic and fire/rescue personnel and equipment for the event — “we were on a big high. To the surprised delight of all of us, the first parade and fair after the parade ended up being almost as large and as fun as the event was in 2007. For eight years, with the interruption by Wilma in 2005 which caused safety hazards forcing us to cancel the event, we continued on. What a time we all had”, said Kitty. The numbers of participants and viewers along the road grew each year. Many participants in the first parade came back year after year, such as the Gojo Federation Karate Kids by Michelle Darbroïs Dojo, Five Star Youth Club’s Flashettes, several ROTC groups from surrounding high schools, South Florida Trailriders Association of Broward, Town of Davie Mayor and councilwoman Susan Starkey, and Ava Tracht Landman and her singers. The event’s success has been due totally to the hard work done by many residents who shared Kitty’s passion for sharing a fun holiday spirit with our neighbors in Forest Ridge and the Ridge on Nob Hill.
Co-Founder and Chair, 16th Annual Forest Ridge Holly Day Parade.