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Published: Thursday, 11/25/2004

City parade heralds the holidays

BY RHONDA B. SEWELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Santa Claus and pro boxer Devin Vargas will join high school bands, equestrian units, an Elvis impersonator, and others tomorrow morning in the 2004 Marsh Holiday Parade through downtown Toledo.

The procession begins at 11 a.m. at Jefferson Avenue and Summit Street, heads north on Summit, west on Jackson Street, and south on Superior Street, ending on Monroe Street. The parade is expected to last about an hour.

Zenobia Shriners and their clowns, Jeepsters, and Highlander bagpipers will start at 10:30 a.m. and follow the same parade route.

Julie Champa, executive director of CitiFest, Inc., says she is delighted to have Vargas as the grand marshal. The Toledo-reared boxer represented the United States in the Athens Olympics last summer before turning pro.

"We felt that there was such a local connection with him being an Olympic contender and turning pro. ... He's a hometown hero that the kids and families are sure to enjoy," she says. Vargas is scheduled to fight tonight in the Toledo Sports Arena.

The parade also features five-story helium balloons in the shapes of flying sea dragons, an American eagle, and a drummer boy. Seven floats, several local mascots including Muddy the Mud Hen, and an Elvis impersonator will appear.

Participating high school marching bands include those from Liberty Center, Delta, Oak Harbor, Wauseon, Bowsher, Start, Waite, Rogers, Riverside (near Cleveland), and Bedford.

Seven equestrian units, the most ever for the parade, will include several breeds of horses such as Clydesdales and Percherons. Units include Old Tyme Travel, Honsberger Percherons, Pleasant Oak Percherons, Fuzzy's Carriage Service, Knapp-Tyme Percherons, Fulton county Horseman's Council, and the Zenobia Equestrians.

The Distinguished Clown Corps - local corporate leaders dressed as clowns - will greet children and hand out goodies.

Bob Savage, chairman of Savage and Associates, a Toledo financial services firm, said he has participated as a member of the Distinguished Clown Corps for 17 years, since the holiday parade's beginning.

"We do have a great time, and the job of the clowns is to cause happiness along the parade route and that's what we do," said Mr. Savage, adding that more than 60 clowns will participate in this year's parade - 18 more than last year.

At the end of the parade, Santa Claus will make his annual arrival in Toledo on a float designed to look like a sleigh.

The parade will be televised on WT05-TV, Buckeye CableSystem's Channel 5, at 2 p.m. Sunday. The parade and the taped telecast will be hosted by local radio personalities Mitch and Mary Beth of WRVF-FM (101.5). No live radio or television broadcasts of the event are planned.

Also this weekend, a holiday Light Parade and tree lighting ceremony is scheduled at 6:30 tonight in Maumee. The parade will begin at East Wayne and Conant streets and end at the Maumee Indoor Theater, where Santa and Maumee Mayor Timothy Wagener will turn on the lights in Uptown Maumee. Information: 419-897-7100 or www.maumee.org.

The Marsh Holiday Parade begins at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Jefferson Avenue and Summit Street. It heads north on Summit, turns west on Jackson Street, south on Superior Street, and ends on Monroe Street. Free parking is available at the Port Lawrence Garage, and the Vistula parking garage at Superior and Orange streets. Parking is not permitted inside the parade route, and streets will close at 8 a.m. No vehicles will be allowed inside the parade route along streets and meters. Information: 419-249-5018 or www.citifest.org.

Contact: Rhonda B. Sewell at: rsewell@theblade.com or 419-724-6101.



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