Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Vermillion Friday night to celebrate the holiday season with the 2016 Parade of Lights celebration.
This year’s parade was somewhat different than that of years before, in that the majority of the floats were parked alongside the road instead of proceeding down the street.
Nate Welch, the executive director of the Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company who was involved in the planning of the event, said he was enthusiastic about the “new tradition” of the floats not moving, and with the overall amount of people who showed up to celebrate.
“This year was a new tradition where, instead of the parade moving down the street, we had the parade on the side where the floats stood still and people were able to walk down in the middle of the street and we’ve been so excited with the success that this year has had,” he said. “Overall, we’re just ecstatic with the turnout, with the amount of people, with the weather. Also, what was really neat was the amount of floats that we had, we had about five times as many as we had the year before, we had over 20 floats this year, which was just fantastic.”
A number of individuals and businesses participated this year and furnished an eclectic assortment of floats, including a horse-drawn buggy, a nativity scene and a large castle float with flames.
“We put out an offer to any businesses, community members, individuals, who want to be able to set up a float and be able to do that,” Welch said. “It’s been a great tradition that we’ve been doing for a number of years.”
Christena Voigt, who came with a group from Avon that brought the castle float, said she enjoyed the parade.
“It’s fun, it’s really great to see all these people out here enjoying the holiday season,” Voigt said.
Junior health services administration major Amy Jazwinski said she was impressed by the ride that Santa Claus had in the parade. Santa rode a firetruck, one of the few moving floats in the parade.
“I thought it was cool that Santa was riding on a firetruck,” Jazwinski said.
After the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus lit up a large Christmas tree on the Platz, and later went to the Vermillion Public Library to take photos with children.
While at the library greeting children, Claus said that he enjoyed the parade, despite the lack of the white stuff.
“It was fun! It’s always fun! There was a lack of snow, so no sleigh, but we had a pretty big sleigh,” he said in reference to the firetruck he rode.
Mrs. Claus said because of the lack of snow, they were unable to furnish the wish of one boy.
“This has been such a great turnout. We’re only missing, as the one little boy requested, Frosty the Snowman, but maybe next year we’ll have some snow,” she said.