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Parma Independence Day parade marks official kick-off of Christmas in July Food Drive

Posted at 10:56 AM, Jul 04, 2023

PARMA, Ohio — One of the area's largest Fourth of July parades across Northeast Ohio steps off later this morning at 10 a.m.

The Parma Independence Day Parade is extra special as it doubles as a major community fundraiser and food drive for the city's Hunger Center.

Thousands of people are expected to line the parade route—which will travel south on Ridge Road from Snow Road to West Ridgewood Drive by The Shoppes at Parma.

City officials say with rising grocery and living prices—food donations are more important than ever before.

And with school out for summer, they want to make sure no children go hungry.

The parade is an all-out effort to celebrate our nation's freedom and give back in a big way.

Parma's beloved Independence Day Parade also marks the start of the month-long Christmas in July Food Drive.

Spectators will line the streets in their red, white and blue best.

All while local volunteers will march the route—collecting donations.

"We kick it off at the parade, and we ask spectators to bring grocery bags of nonperishable food. Also, paper products such as napkins and paper towels," Carolyn Kovach, director of communications City of Parma, said.

Kovach said those non-perishable foods and paper products are critical.

That's because the Parma Hunger Center sees a steep decline in drop-offs during the summer months.

While you're out and about at the parade, she's encouraging folks to keep their eyes peeled for the Christmas in July float.

Then, flag down the volunteers so they can snag your donation bag.

"It feels like Christmas for us because people are giving us food, and we're putting it in the trailer. And I love watching the trailer fill up as we're making our way along the parade route," Kovach said.

The parade is extra special as this year marks Chris Knebusch’s 25th year organizing the gathering.

The parade has a long-standing history dating all the way back to the early 1950s.

It's seen tremendous growth over time and gained serious momentum coming out of the pandemic.

He says he's proud to be a long-time resident and even more grateful for his community's ongoing generosity.

"Thank you so much for all your support. Looking forward to coming years, and we'll see you on the morning of the Fourth," Chris Knebusch, property maintenance inspector and member of the Parma Proud organization.

After the parade—all the food collected is then dropped off at the Parma Hunger Center.

Kovach said that In addition to the parade collection, donations will be collected throughout July in bins at Parma City Hall’s front lobby and council chamber, Donna Smallwood Activities Center, University Hospitals Parma Medical Center’s front entrance and the Snow Road and Powers Boulevard libraries.

These collection sites will be available starting Friday, July 7. Look for Christmas in July signs and collection bins.

Another option is online donations.

Residents can go to the Parma Hunger Center website to donate. After clicking on the donation button, select the Parma Hunger Center food program to donate and then indicate the contribution is for the Christmas in July campaign.

For questions about the Christmas in July Food Drive, email ckovach@cityofparma-oh.gov with the subject line Christmas in July.