Local Lifestyle, News

Empire Cheer named Grand Marshals of ‘22 Apple Butter Festival Parade

The 47th Annual Apple Butter Festival has named Empire Cheer as the grand marshal for the 2022 parade.  In just five years, the local group has gone from one team practicing in a church, to five teams with over 60 first place banners and 18 national titles in their own practice facility.

This year’s Apple Butter parade’s theme is “All Together Now,” something festival organizers know Empire Cheer embodies.

Members of Empire Cheer at the 45th Annual Apple Butter Festival.

Parade applications are now available for organizations or individuals to sign up at the Chamber of Commerce office, or on the Chamber website.

The Apple Butter Festival makes its triumphant return October 8-9, and kicks off with the parade on Saturday morning at 9 a.m.  Empire Cheer will also be performing in the park at 1:30 p.m.

In 2017, Empire began with seventeen young girls with big dreams and a lot of passion.  Practicing in a church facility called “The Blue” on Fearnow Rd with just a few mismatched mats and limited space, the athletes drove to Hagerstown every Friday to practice on a spring floor at a gymnastics facility so they could work on spacing and tumbling.  In 2018, their first season of competitive cheer, Empire Cheer won their first national title.  By the end of the first season, a member of the community offered a space to rent and they finally had their own building, eliminating the need to travel out of Berkeley Springs to practice.

Season 2 saw the number of athletes nearly doubling and they added two more national titles to their resume.  Season 3 came with two more teams for a total of four and another round of national titles before Covid cut the season short.  With fundraising and community support, they were able to practice virtually and keep their doors open until they were able to meet in person again.

With many restrictions still in place, Empire Cheer reopened their facility for their fourth season and grew again, accomplishing a long sought after goal: sweeping a competition. Traveling to the Poconos for The Finale National Championship, Empire left with their first ever “clean sweep.” They added five more national titles in season 4.

Season 5 brought a fifth team for a total of four competitive teams and one exhibition team.  And, by the end of season 5, the Empire athletes earned 23 first places, 6 second places, 4 third places, 10 national titles, and 6 Grand Champion titles making season 5 their most successful season yet.  In June, all four of competitive teams were ranked number 1 in the country for their specific age & level. The senior team was ranked number 1 in the country across all ages and levels.

“We are honored and humbled to be this year’s Grand Marshal for the Apple Butter Parade. Our athletes have worked incredibly hard to be the best they can be and we believe they deserve recognition for not only their cheer accomplishments, but for their never ending support, compassion, heart, and dedication. We truly believe we have made our small community proud in our five seasons and look forward to many more. Our athletes absolutely love the Apple Butter Parade and have brought great entertainment to all in attendance with our stunts and tumbling.”

For more information about parade applications, call the Berkeley Springs-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce at 304-258-3738, visit berkeleyspringschamber.com/apple-butter-festival or look on the festival’s Facebook page.