Eight-year-old Katie Sanchez picked out a perfect spot Saturday morning to see marching bands, balloons, horses, and — most important — Santa as Toledo’s 25th annual Holiday Parade eased along the downtown streets.
Much to her mother’s chagrin, that spot was up a tree along Jackson Street. “Oh my God, I would never let her do this on any other day other than parade day,” Maria Sanchez said.
The mother-daughter duo were among thousands of parade enthusiasts lining the streets. Initially bundled up in coats and a blanket each, they praised the sunny warm-up that graced downtown before Santa made his grand appearance at the end of the parade.
In its second year of being moved from the traditional Saturday after Thanksgiving — a switch prompted by Thanksgiving-weekend scheduling of the Ohio State-Michigan football game — the parade drew about 20,000 to 25,000 spectators, organizers said. The event, co-sponsored by Taylor Cadillac and The Blade, was led by the Scott High School marching band and then Olympic high-jump silver medalist Erik Kynard, Jr., the parade’s co-grand marshal.
Mr. Kynard, 21, a Rogers High School graduate and Kansas State University senior, flew home Friday night ahead of the parade and Thanksgiving.
“I really just got swooped up. ... Of course I wanted to do it,” he said about his role in the parade. He rode in a red convertible just ahead of the Rogers High School marching band.
Landon Hess, 2, hung onto his mother’s back piggy-back style, near the start of the parade route, where they waited for Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear to make his appearance.
“That's why we came,” said Kevin Marsh, the boy’s grandfather. “He was Buzz for Halloween and he’s really excited.”
Mr. Marsh said he hadn’t been to the parade in 20 years because of his job schedule, and it was very different — “more contemporary now” — from what he remembered.
Calm winds made for a relatively easy day for marchers guiding the multistory helium balloons, although Katie Fong, a student at Toledo School for the Arts, said keeping Frosty the Snowman moving in a straight line still was tougher than it looked.
“The crowd was really good and they were really happy to see Frosty,” Katie, 13, said. “I don’t think they know how hard it is to carry the balloons.”
The parade, which included Clydesdale horses, bands playing holiday music, and Shriners, started at the intersection of Summit Street and Jefferson Avenue, traveled north on Summit to Jackson Street, and finished at Huron and Monroe streets. Members of the Toledo police and fire departments, as well as local service organizations, also participated in the event.
The Distinguished Clown Corps marked its 25th year working the parade and handing out candy to children. This year the 90 or so clowns also handed out toothbrushes to children, who seemed reluctant to take them unless accompanied by candy.
Columbia Gas spokesman Chris Kozak dressed like a clown for the seventh year. “I have been training to be a clown my whole life,” he said.
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, the only public official invited to march in the parade, was absent because he is on a trade mission to China. Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, a possible challenger to Mr. Bell for the mayor's office in 2013, rode in the parade in an antique firetruck driven by the Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association.
From his customary position at the parade’s end, Santa reported, as usual, that “very few of Toledo’s children were naughty this year.”
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.