This has got to be the quirkiest parade in the country


The distance from Lewisburg to Shanghai, China, is about 7,450 miles.

No one really knows how, when or why a small town in West Virginia started the annual New Year’s Day Shanghai Parade— but that’s the magic of it.

Well, part of the magic, anyway.

There are theories. Like, maybe a group of immigrants from China’s biggest city brought the tradition to the Mountain State. But it doesn’t really seem to be taken from anything else… in fact, it’s pretty unique. And pretty weird!

Maybe it’s a play on the English definition of the word “shanghai”: to coerce or trick (someone) into a place, or position or into doing something. After all, it would take some serious coercing to get a grown man to stroll the street in the biting January cold wearing nothing but an oversized diaper and slippers.

That’s right, the front of the line has historically been held up by the city’s fire chief, Wayne Pennington, a.k.a. Baby New Year. Pennington proudly claimed this role in the late 80s, accompanied by longtime pal Tim Stover. Stover’s title is police chief all but one day of the year, when he takes up the ever-important role of the giant New Year Baby’s nursemaid. (Rumor has it the boisterous pair have recently called the antics quits as they reach retirement age.)

But that’s just one of the unusual things you’ll see on Washington Street every Jan. 1. There aren’t any entrance fees or registration, so it’s basically a free-for-all. The number and type of participants is unknown until the day-of, when the town’s wackiest and most eccentric line up to show off their duds.

In the Shanghai Parade, there are no rules. You can cruise the street in your Barbie Jeep. You can cover your tractor in aluminum foil and drive it wearing an alien suit (yes, that actually happened). Heck, you can slap on a pig mask and cartwheel the length of Washington Street if you want to.

Cash prizes are awarded for a number of categories, and everyone who walks the parade is handed a $2 bill— because why not?

Bundle up and catch the shenanigans Jan. 1. Or heck, join in! Lineup is at 11 a.m. on Lee Street. Parade begins at noon!

Are you going?





This post was last updated on July 30, 2020