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City’s Star Wars-themed parade attracts crowd despite rain

Musicians with the Greater Kensington String Band traveled from Philadelphia to participate in College Park’s annual parade. ZOE BRUNTON

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Posted on: May 9, 2024

By SAM GAUNTT

Despite a cold, rainy morning, hundreds of College Park residents, many wearing Star Wars-themed costumes, made their way to Rhode Island Avenue to watch and even march in the city’s third annual parade on May 4. 

Marchers included several of the city’s neighborhood organizations, the Washington Commanders’ marching band and the Greater Kensington String Band – a Mummers group from Philadelphia. Mummers are performers who wear exuberant costumes and are known for their parades. 

College Park Mayor Fazlul Kabir said he was pleased with the turnout even with the rain. 

“It’s wonderful,” Kabir said. “I’ve met quite a few neighbors, and I’m very pleased that they came with their families.” 

According to Ryna Quiñones, the city’s communications and events manager, College Park used to have an annual parade hosted by the College Park Boys & Girls Club, before it eventually fizzled out in the 1990s. 

Three years ago, the city brought the parade back on July 4 but in 2023 moved the event to May, making it easier for students from the University of Maryland and local public schools to attend because classes are still in session, Quiñones said. 

“This is a very fun and cool opportunity to try to maybe bring in another kind of sect of people to enjoy and participate in the parade,” Quiñones said. 

College Park resident Betty Colonomos said when she saw the rain, she thought not many people would turn out but was pleased by the size of the crowd. 

Colonomos marched in the parade with the College Park Senior Advisory Committee.

She said events like the parade are important because they allow people to spend quality time with friends and neighbors, especially in stressful times. 

“If you can’t stop and smell the roses, or whatever, once in a while, it gets really hard to keep going,” Colonomos said. 

Quiñones said the parade — indeed, all of the city’s events — are good for community building. 

“There’s something for everybody, for every age, and [our offerings are] very diverse,” Quiñones said. “And what we offer in the parade is just one more example of that.” 

City resident Rigo Ayala said he had a great time at the parade. 

“I’m actually from LA,” Ayala, who attended the event with his son, said. “We normally do a lot of parades over there.”

He said sometimes people get too busy with what’s going on in their lives that they forget to enjoy themselves and have a good time.

Many people in the crowd dressed as Star Wars characters, such as Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker, as a hat tip to the parade’s theme. 

Elena Argueta, 2024 Miss College Park, marched in the parade as Princess Leia. 

“I feel like parades bring the community together,” she said. “I think it’s just enjoying the moment for as it is, right?”  

Several members of the College Park City Council also celebrated the event in costume, including College Park CIty Councilmember Jacob Hernandez (District 1). 

“I’ve got a lot of family members that are really into Star Wars,” resident Sue Kohn said. “I enjoyed [the theme], and it wasn’t too much.”

The city approved $31,000 to fund the parade. 

Some councilmembers suggested eliminating next year’s parade to save money, as the proposed budget for the 2025 fiscal year would raise residential property taxes for the first time in 10 years.

After receiving more than a dozen emails from residents asking the council to reverse the decision, the council restored $33,000 to the proposed budget for next year’s parade. 

“Thankfully, it was put back,” Kabir told College Park Here & Now at the parade. 

And while next year’s budget hasn’t received final approval yet, Kabir said he hopes the funding for the parade will remain.

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