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110 menorah-topped cars to parade through Chesterfield

To celebrate the 2018 Hanukkah season, Chabad of Chesterfield is hosting an unprecedented event that will be hard to miss for Chesterfield residents. 110 menorah-topped cars will parade through the heart of Chesterfield. The parade will be followed by the public lighting of a 9-foot-tall menorah in Chesterfield’s Central Park and a massive gelt drop in which 1,100 gelt [chocolate coins] will be dropped from a height of 75 feet over the crowd. Out of the 1,100 gelt dropped, eight will be marked as special “golden gelt” and those lucky golden gelt recipients will receive a special prize. The celebration includes live music, entertainment, doughnuts, latkes and Hanukkah treats for all.

The 110 menorah-topped cars and the 1,100 chocolate gelt are not random. The theme of the number 11 within those larger numbers is intentional.

“We tried to commemorate the 11 victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre,” Rabbi Avi Rubenfeld, with the Chabad of Chesterfield, said. “Essentially, there was a fellow who tried to frighten or destroy the Jewish people and here is an expression of Jewish pride to counteract that. You don’t fight darkness with darkness; you fight it with light. The idea was to respond to this terrible tragedy with a profound showing of now only Jewish pride but with light.”

10 also is a significant number in the Jewish faith.

“The parade will feature 11 teams of 10. We believe each soul is made up of 10 parts; there are 10 powers of the soul. So we decided on 11 teams of 10,” Rabbi Avi said.

At 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 3, people and vehicles will begin congregating in Chesterfield’s Central Park, 16365 Lydia Hill Drive, to prepare for The Grand Car Menorah Parade, which will depart the park from Veterans Hill Drive at 6 p.m.

The parade route travels from Central Park along August Hill Drive, to Baxter Road toward Edison Avenue. From Baxter Road, the route will turn left on Edison Avenue and complete a loop centering around THF Blvd. From Edison Avenue, the route turns right onto Public Works Drive, past the Chesterfield Cinema, and then continues its loop, making another right onto Chesterfield Airport Road. The menorah caravan will travel along Chesterfield Airport Road, turning right onto Chesterfield Commons East Road, just before Annie Gunn’s. The group will then turn left on Edison Avenue, then  a quick right onto Baxter Road, tracing its route back to Central Park.

The Car Menorah Parade route

The parade will include vehicles of all kinds. In addition to the menorah-topped cars, a Jewish motorcycle brigade and a menorah-topped limousine for kids will be present.

A menorah-topped car [Chabad of Chesterfield photo]

A menorah-topped motorcycle [Chabad of Chesterfield photo]

Following the parade, a giant menorah lighting will take place in Central Park.

“That will be the highlight of the event,” Rabbi Avi said. “The climax of the event after the parade is the public menorah lighting. The menorah is 9 feet tall with giant torches, and everyone has their own individual candle. It’s a beautiful, beautiful scene.”

The night doesn’t stop there. A full-on celebration ensues, including a massive gelt drop of 1,100 chocolate coins from 75 feet in the air.

“Gelt is Yiddish for money. You teach kids, ‘This is something you own and now you use it to give to others who have less.’ Over time, they started using chocolate coins instead of real money,” Rabbi Avi explained. “From 75 feet above the crowd, there will be over 1,100 gelt coins that will be poured out. Eight of them will be specially marked. Whoever gets one of the eight coins, the ‘golden gelt’ winners, will get a special prize”

It’s a one-of-a-kind event that’s free and open to all.

To participate in the parade, cars should begin lining up along Veterans Place Drive toward the amphitheater in Central Park. When the parade arrives back at Central Park, cars may park in any of the parking lots in the park.

This year, Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, begins on Sunday evening, Dec. 1 and concludes on Monday, Dec. 10. It recalls the victory of a militarily weak Jewish people who defeated the Syrian Greeks who had overrun ancient Israel and sought to impose restrictions on the Jewish way of life and prohibit religious freedom. They also desecrated and defiled the Temple and the oils prepared for the lighting of the Menorah, which was part of the daily service. Upon recapturing the Temple, only one jar of undefiled oil was found, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight. In commemoration, Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabra known as a Menorah. Today, people of all faiths consider the holiday a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness.

To learn more about Hanukkah, visit ChabadOfChesterfield/Hanukkah.

For more information on the Menorah Parade and Hanukkah Celebration , contact Rabbi Avi, with Chabad of Chesterfield, at (636) 778-4000 or rabbi@chabadofchesterfield.com.

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