Thousands of holiday revelers lined the streets of downtown Denison Thursday as the city rang in the holiday season with its annual Christmas parade. The annual event, which was hosted by the Denison Area Chamber of Commerce, saw more than 1,000 entrants representing more than 100 groups march, dance and ride through the streets of Denison to the delight of onlookers.
“Denison has such a history with parades and all the local participation,” interim chamber President Shelle Cassell said. “They want to come out in support of the students, kids and local businesses.”
For 2016's parade, the chamber used the theme of “a frosted fairy tale” for its floats and entrants. Cassell said the idea came from chamber staff who were following recent trends and movies.
“The floats were all creative and the crowd was enthusiastic and I think it went pretty well,” she said.
Among those who participated in this year's parade was a dance troupe with Dance Xplosion, which brought in a float decorated to look like a holiday kitchen. More than 50 dancers, dressed as bakers and gingerbread men, performed a clogging dance as they walked along with the float.
When asked how she came up with the kitchen theme, she said she wanted to play off of the frosted theme for the parade. “We just picked a theme, let everyone know, and they all kind of work off of it,” she said.
Choreographer Mattie Quate said the troupe has participated in the event since 2008 and has made it an unofficial dance recital since the troupe doesn't perform one in the winter. In addition to serving as a public performance for the students, Quate said she sees the event as the unofficial start of the holiday season.
Other groups tried to follow recent trends while building their floats around this year's theme. About half a dozen performers dressed up as the character's from Disney's “Frozen” rode on Champion Cooler's float this year. Workers and volunteers with the business put in nearly 60 hours transforming the back of the float into a ice castle for the parade.
“I think the parade is always a start of the season,”Christina Reed said, while dressed as Princess Anna. “With the kids smiling and waving it's how you get into the Christmas spirit.”
As she rode, she carried her young daughter, who was also dressed as Anna, in her arms. She joked that her daughter has performed in the parade for the last three years, despite being less than three years old. “This one has been in the parade every year, even from the belly on,” she said with a laugh.
Alongside many local performers, Denison's Christmas parade also featured a visitor from the North Pole. Santa Claus made an appearance by starting Thursday's festivities with the of lighting the city's Christmas tree and by capping off the parade.
When asked about what brought him to Denison, Santa said he always tries to make it to the annual parade. “I make this an annual event,” he said. “I try to put this on my schedule every year.”
Santa said he was impressed with how well behaved the children of Denison were in 2016 compared to children in other cities. “Most of the places I go to are about half and half,” he said referring to the naughty and nice list. “But it's good to find a place where they are mostly good.”
For others, the holiday parade is a way to get into the Christmas spirit in a family-friendly environment with loved ones. Cheryl Galloway, who was dressed in sweater modeled after Santa's jacket, came out to the parades with her niece and nephew. She said she has made the parade a tradition for the last 15 years she has lived in Denison.
“I just like watching the children's faces when the floats go by,” she said. “I love their excitement over Christmas.”