ANSONIA–Cory Meadows and his family know how to entertain people, whether it be at a campout at his parents’ home or in parades at special times throughout the year.
They have had entries in all of the five annual Lighted Christmas Parades in Ansonia in 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, and now this year, the latter being this past Saturday.
And each year, they have chosen to select their themes based on Christmas movies. This year’s was “A Christmas Story,” in which Cory once again had the starring role of Old Man Parker. His children, daughters Avery and Kinley, also participated this year; Avery as Flick, whose tongue was stuck to a frozen flagpole, and Kinley played Ralphie in a bunny suit.
“Dad (Drew) is the creative one when it comes to building and creating. Mom (Roxann) and myself do all the extra designing, and, of course, I do all the show light,” said Cory. “It keeps us on our toes to agree on things. Dad did 80 percent of the work again, and he drove his towing truck through the parade.”
In fact, Drew has been behind the wheel of all of the units in those five years.
A couple of things miraculously occurred this year to make the project more of a success.
The leg lamp that was used in the movie was acquired by the family just weeks before the parade.
“One leg was ordered on a website, but it was never delivered, and then Dad found one in a house up north and happened to know the person, Barb Bateman, whose husband had the leg,” Cory noted. “Dad had helped her two weeks before by working on her car. Other props we got from my hoarding family, the keepers of everything.”
Yes, he was referring to his parents, who admittedly acknowledged that.
In addition to the leg lamp, another prop was acquired for the “show.” Roxann was shopping in a store and looking for a BB gun but called back home and said she couldn’t find it. Guess what? A store employee just happened to bring out a box of Red Ryder Carbine Auction 200-shot range model rifles, and she bought one of them.
“The star on this year’s tree on the truck was an exact replica of the real one,” Cory said. “This year, we also used a lot of older lights.”
Each year, the family starts out with the choosing of a scene.
“The first year, we did not know if it would take off or not. We needed props, but we try not to let anything out,” Cory said. “But, it all came together. This year, I studied the movie a couple of times and made notes.”
His favorite of the five they’ve presented was “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
“The first year, we said let’s go big,” Cory recalled. “Dad used cardboard to create a Winnebago. The first year was the easiest.”
Cory portrayed the lead character, Cousin Eddie, and it got laughs from the crowd, especially when it involved an outhouse.
“We went big the first year,” he said.
In 2019, the theme was “The Grinch,” with Cory once again starring in the title role, while daughter Avery was Cindy Loo-Who.
Because of COVID in 2020, there was no parade; however, it returned in 2021 with the “Elf” movie, with Cory as Buddy, the elf, and his wife, Taylor, in her only appearance so far in these reproductions. She co-starred and spent her time behind the shower curtain.
“Nobody could see me,” Taylor beamed.
Next on their agenda in 2022, Meadows’ Towing truck was once again decorated for the festivities. The theme? “Home Alone.” Of course, Cory was Marv; assisting him on stage were friends Reese Walters as Harry and Tate Gelhaus, who played the part of Kevin.
“Two scenes were built for this one,” Cory noted.
Roxann said they have to make the scenery two-sided so it can be viewed from both sides of the street during the parade.
And the Meadows family has been happy with the outcome every time. They say Christmas is and has always been their favorite holiday.
Where is their entry in the parade each year?
Cory wants to be the last one in the lineup to build up anticipation in the crowd.
“We have done the tree uptown (at the southeast corner of Main and Weller) the last few years,” Cory said, “It belonged to our former neighbor, the late Norma Gard, who donated her tree to us.”
Drew, the patriarch of the family, said the hardest part for them is that they need help getting the framework on his rollback truck.
“We want to keep people from finding out what it’s going to be. The idea is to keep them guessing until the night of,” Cory said.
Planning for them begins every October after the fire department’s Halloween parade and chili supper. Why? Because Cory is busy there as well. In fact, he is the emcee for the costume contest, not to mention calling out the names of winners in their annual raffle.
He loves working with the youngsters and, this year, even complied with a challenge presented to him by one of the entrants. Nora Barnt challenged him to dance after she showed him her steps. Cory did it to the tune of “Footloose” and did it well.
Drew has worked for the village of Ansonia in maintenance for the last three years, all the while running his one-man towing business, he started in 2012. Altogether, he has been doing that type of work for 30 years. He graduated in 1981 from Ansonia High School (AHS).
Wife Roxann, a 1982 graduate of AHS, has worked at Moriroku Technology North America, formerly known as GTI, for a number of years.
Drew and Roxann were married 40 years ago on Oct. 27.
Cory, a 2009 AHS graduate, has worked for ODOT as an auto tech since 2017. He is also a lieutenant in the Ansonia Fire Department and is passionate about firefighting.
Why did he decide to join the fire department? “Because Dad did it,” he proudly replied.
Cory met his wife while they were both in college; he was at the University of Northwestern Ohio, and she was at Rhodes State. His applied science degree was for an auto technician.
Not to be left out, Drew and Roxann’s daughter, Shawna Kimmel, helps with the teardown and also helps come up with ideas for the annual productions.
The siblings, Cory and Shawna, were featured in previous newspaper articles focusing on their juvenile Type 1 diabetes. They will have it the rest of their lives and are thriving.
The Meadows’ presentations are kept going by community support. “Nathan and Jerrica Stafford had a pre-parade event at their decorated house on East Canal Street this year,” Cory said.
It was noted that there were 33 entries, five decorated fire trucks, and the ACP “Clean up” truck, meaning 39 entries were featured in the 2023 Ansonia Community Pride Lighted Christmas Parade…a brilliant idea for all involved.