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Serving as grand marshal, Toledo soldier gets a hero's welcome at annual holiday parade

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ABC Channel 13 employees followed by Frosty the Snowman. The Blade's 26th Annual Holiday Parade, sponsored by The Taylor Automotive Family, in Toledo, on Saturday.

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A Toledo soldier who survived an attack on her training unit in Afghanistan was given a hero’s reception while serving as grand marshal of Toledo’s 2013 Holiday Parade on Saturday.

Thousands of parade attendees greeted Army Spec. Stephanie Morris, 24, a 2007 graduate of Libbey High School, with a standing ovation and thunderous applause as her motorcade made its way along Madison Avenue and Adams Street in downtown Toledo.

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“We usually come to all the parades, including Memorial Day and Labor Day,” said Toledo resident Mario Moreno, who was accompanied by his wife, Erminia, and their eight-year-old daughter, Adelaida. “It’s a good way to spend time with the family.”

Adelaida Moreno had no complaints as she jumped up and down in excitement and applauded while an announcer listed Specialist Morris’ accomplishments. Ms. Morris suffered serious wounds to her leg and foot in the June 18 attack near Bagram Air Base and is still undergoing rehabilitation.

She was escorted by the Toledo Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Riders, Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, and the Patriot Guard Riders. The motorcyclists were led by a spirited Mayor Mike Bell, whose roaring bike prompted roars of applause from spectators, including Mr. Moreno.

“There’s something for everyone,” Mrs. Moreno said before she started to laugh and point at her fist-pumping husband.

The 26th Annual Blade Holiday Parade was presented by the Taylor Automotive Family. The parade started at 10 a.m. at North Summit and Jefferson Streets in downtown Toledo and ended at Huron and Monroe streets.

Also participating in this year’s parade were more than 100 clowns from the Distinguished Clown Corps who distributed candy; Shriners, choirs, marching bands, various floats, costumed cartoon characters, giant helium balloons, “hospitality elves,” and the perennial holiday-parade star, Santa Claus.

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