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Published: Sunday, 11/28/2004

Holiday parade draws thousands

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Santa Claus waves to spectators at the annual downtown holiday parade. Santa Claus waves to spectators at the annual downtown holiday parade.
MORRISON / BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

As wind whipped across Summit Street yesterday morning, Kelly Perry quickly unzipped a plaid sleeping bag and used it to cover a street curb for her daughters.

It was there that the two girls, Hannah and Stacey Parish, ages 4 and 3, sat bundled up to watch the annual holiday parade and all of its sights - including five-story helium balloons, high school bands, and horses whose hooves pounded the pavement.

And, of course, there was candy thrown by colorful clowns directly into the Toledo girls' laps, keeping them from even having to extend their covered hands to grab at the goodies.

"We've been coming since they were smaller," said Ms. Perry, who used a hat to collect and carry her girls' candy. "We just love all the floats and the horses."

The annual Toledo Holiday Parade, which spotlighted Santa Claus and Olympic boxer Devin Vargas, attracted thousands of people downtown yesterday for the procession that lasted more than an hour.

The temperature was 46 degrees with winds at 17 to 26 mph, but the day remained dry.

Drum major Jyrell Gresham, 16, leads the Mecca Temple Egyptian Knights Drum and Drill Corps during the parade. Drum major Jyrell Gresham, 16, leads the Mecca Temple Egyptian Knights Drum and Drill Corps during the parade.
MORRISON / BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Crowds used umbrellas to block the wind, while balloon handlers had to battle gusts to keep the floats steady and direct them under an overpass along the parade route.

Overall, though, Ron Schneider of Maumee said the weather was pleasant for a parade. His daughters, ages 7 and 4, stood up from their chairs as they held bags to collect their candy.

Melinda and Lauren Schneider swayed to the bands' music and waved to an Elvis impersonator as he passed in front of them.

They laughed at children riding unicycles.

Roberta Snow-Quintanilla, her dog Chulo, and granddaughter Rebecca Martinez, 8, were bundled up for the cold. Roberta Snow-Quintanilla, her dog Chulo, and granddaughter Rebecca Martinez, 8, were bundled up for the cold.
MORRISON / BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

"They love the candy and they love the whole atmosphere of a parade," Mr. Schneider said, adding that they also attended Maumee's parade Friday night.

Marquasia Jones, 7, of Toledo, who went to the parade with her two siblings and her mother, Lacreasha Hickenbottom, had so much fun that she couldn't decide at first on her favorite part of the parade.

"I like everything," she said emphatically, but then followed up by saying she enjoyed the dancers the best.

Her mother said the parade is an annual attraction for her family, largely because it's a nice, peaceful place to spend a morning.

"Everyone was friendly. The clowns were really, really nice," she said.

"They got the kids into the parade. There were no problems here."

Children and their parents weren't the only spectators at the parade.

Noel Riddle, 62, of Toledo, sat in a chair holding his 4-year-old poodle, GeeGee, who was making her first major public appearance. She was wrapped in a fleece blanket and was wearing a dog coat to keep warm.

"I wanted to acclimate her to a crowd, just to see how she'd do," Mr. Riddle said. "So far, she's doing very well."

Contact Kim Bates at: kimbates@theblade.com or 419-724-6074.



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