This Parade Doesn’t Pass Carmazzi’s By

For many decades parades have passed by one of historic downtown Urbana, Ohio’s most beloved landmarks: Carmazzi’s Delicatessen and Candy Store. The family-owned business—now in its fifth generation—started out in 1893 as Bianchi’s Fruit Store. It became Carmazzi’s in 1931, firmly ensconced in history—in a Federalist-style building that served as a military headquarters during the War of 1812, in the southwest corner of Monument Square.

Carmazzi's Deli and Candy Store, Urbana, Ohio, at Mercy McAuley Center Christmas Parade

After the Mercy McAuley Center Christmas Parade, Grand Marshal John Carmazzi stands next to a replica of his store, made for the parade by Melinda Thackery of Sysbro Design of Urbana (and I took the photos of the store, which has stood for 117 years on the southwest corner of Urbana).

On Tuesday, though, the Carmazzi’s building was in a parade. Actually, it was a 3-D model of the building, accompanied by store owner John Carmazzi, grand marshal of the 15th annual Mercy McAuley Center Christmas Parade.

Held at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of December, the parade, which marches to the sounds of Christmas through the corridors of the Urbana nursing home, is the brainchild of Tonya West, McAuley’s director of social service and admissions.  The parade actually was birthed from her heart, the result of a conversation she had with some of the nursing home’s residents. They lamented they could no longer get outdoors to celebrate the Christmas season. And for them, part of the tradition included Christmas parades.

Community Mercy Hospice at Mercy McAuley Center Christmas Parade in Urbana, Ohio

The first year, with the help of Bob Jenkins in plant operations and Sondra Williams in environmental services, who continue to be involved, the parade included 20 units. This year’s edition featured 61 units and involved more than 400 people—including Urbana High School marching band members, athletes and cheerleaders, church groups, carolers, staff members and volunteers from McAuley and other Community Mercy Health Partners facilities, a unicyclist,  soloists, veterans, dancers, elementary school musicians, Scouts, clowns, businesses and Urbana Mayor Ruth Zerkle. Plus, several dogs, Buckeyeman and a Jim Tressel look-alike.

In much the same way as Carmazzi’s packs a vast array of general merchandise, candy, newspapers (including The New York Times) and a deli in a tiny two-aisle store, McAuley Center manages to fill and deck its halls with an ever-growing, moving celebration of Christmas, teeming with men, women and children who look forward to sharing their talents and brightening the season for McAuley’s residents. Recruiting participants is no problem, as individuals and organizations now call Tonya.

As you prepare to fill Christmas stockings with candy and other goodies, stop by Carmazzi’s —which also offers special order Christmas fruit baskets.  And take some time to visit people in our local nursing homes.

Here’s a little background on Carmazzi’s from The Ohio State University Center for Folklore Studies.


  1. Steve Purdin says:

    I remember going here with my dad and mom on weekends for the penny candy. I live in California now, but I miss Ohio very much. Especially Urbana. We lived in Westville, and Urbana was the “Big City” to us as kids. Congratulations to Carmazzi’s for the recognition. The family deserves it. I am sure they are MANY people out there who remember the wonderful times there as kids.

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