By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It’s been a Baltimore tradition since 1972, and it happens in Hampden on Sunday.

Ron Matz reports the bands, floats and the people are ready for an annual parade that will bring thousands of spectators to the streets and sidewalks of this popular Baltimore neighborhood.

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The lights are on in Hampden, and the bands and big balloons are ready to roll in the 41st annual mayor’s Christmas parade.

“It’s a big deal,” said Tom Kerr, parade chairman. “We have 17 bands this year. They’re coming from Pennsylvania, Virginia and of course Baltimore.”

Eight-year-old Emma Hammett is Miss Junior Yuletide. She’s living a holiday dream.

“I wrote a letter saying I wanted to feel what it was like to ride on a float, and the next thing you know I’m going to be on a float. I’m excited because I’ve seen the parade a long time,” she said.

Kerr says the parade is all about family.

“This is the parade’s 41st year and my 41st. Mayor Schaefer called me and said ‘We want to have a parade up here. I want you to do it for one year,’ and I’ve been doing it since then. I think about him many times. He was the driving force and that’s why we call it the mayor’s Christmas parade,” Kerr said.

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Stephanie Murdock’s party will be on a skateboard with some friends.

“This is our third parade. I’m hoping for a big turnout this year. We have a lot to celebrate. We’re getting a new skateboard park here in Hampden,” Murdock said. “I’m going to be skateboarding again this year in the parade. We have 100 skateboarders skating from Poly down to the Avenue. We will also have a skateboarding dog. You’ve got to check that out.”

Sunday’s parade wouldn’t happen without the help of the Hampden business community.

“Every business in Hampden steps up. They give us a sponsorship for the parade. It makes the parade. We couldn’t do it without them,” Kerr said.

So join the crowds and say hi to good friends.

“Everyone in Baltimore come out and watch the parade,” Hammett said.

“We have the big balloons, like the ones you see on Thanksgiving. We have about 30 people holding them down,” Kerr said.

Sunday’s parade begins at 1 p.m. at Falls Road and Cold Spring Lane. WJZ’s Chelsea Ingram, Tim Williams and Ron Matz will be riding in a convertible.

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