Kick­ing off the Christ­mas pa­rade

Santa gets warm wel­come in High­land

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - News - By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tri­bune

The hol­i­day sea­son of­fi­cially kicked off Nov. 25 in down­town High­land, with the ar­rival of Santa Claus dur­ing the an­nual Santa March pa­rade down High­way Av­enue.

The tra­di­tional pro­gram, begin­ning at dusk, also in­cluded light­ing the mul­ti­tude of hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions in Main Square Park, mu­si­cal per­for­mances and an op­por­tu­nity for pic­tures with Santa.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple lined High­way Av­enue — many laden with blan­kets and warm hats — as they waited for the pa­rade to be­gin.

“We just moved to High­land from Illi­nois this past sum­mer, but our daugh­ter Mia was in the pa­rade last year with the Girl Scouts, so we were ex­cited to come again,” Angie Paschall said as her fam­ily set­tled in. “We love it here. This (pa­rade) brings ev­ery­one to­gether — we feel like part of the com­mu­nity.”

Since the sun was dis­ap­pear­ing as the ac­tion be­gan, most of the floats were il­lu­mi­nated with brightly col­ored hol­i­day lights.

“Wow, a talk­ing toi­let that’s singing,” Davy Parker, 12, of Mun­ster, said as he watched a gaily-dec­o­rated, il­lu­mi­nated port-a-potty placed high on a truck. “That’s the best thing I saw tonight.”

Many fam­i­lies opened their tail­gates, giv­ing their chil­dren the op­por­tu­nity to sit and watch the pa­rade from the com­fort of the ve­hi­cle.

The Bean­blos­som fam­ily of High­land did just that.

“This (event) is get­ting us in the Christ­mas spirit,” Brian Bean­blos­som said, as he ar­ranged blan­kets in the back of his SUV. “It’s fun for fam­i­lies, es­pe­cially the kids.”

Chil­dren ar­rived on bi­cy­cles and in strollers and lit­tle red wagons.

High­land young­ster Nathan Leyen­decker, 3, and his lit­tle sis­ter, Emily, 1, found com­fort and warmth in the lat­ter.

“I stayed warm in there,” Nathan said, be­fore climb­ing out to ex­plore the other chil­dren milling around on High­way Av­enue. “My sis­ter won’t come out; she’s too warm.”

Grif­fith young­ster Vi­vian McTague, 5, also stayed cud­dled up — un­der a blan­ket on her dad’s lap.

“My other daugh­ter, Vi­o­let, 7, is walk­ing with the Girl Scouts, so we’re ex­cited for her,” dad Kyle McTague said, as the pa­rade be­gan. “This (event) is a good way to start the hol­i­day sea­son. Ev­ery­one is hav­ing fun, young and old alike.”

Ac­tiv­i­ties con­tin­ued in Main Square Park af­ter the pa­rade pro­ces­sion ended.

Af­ter dis­em­bark­ing from their sleigh/float, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus took to their perch lo­cated in one cor­ner of the gazebo.

Dozens of chil­dren lined up to pa­tiently wait their turn to sit on the old man’s lap.

“My kids are so ex­cited, they brought a sheet of pa­per with their gift re­quests,” High­land res­i­dent Jana Walters said with a laugh.

“We’re try­ing to not over­spend this year, so each of my boys is go­ing to get only one big gift. And they can’t de­cide on which one it will be.”

The High­land Mid­dle School choir en­ter­tained the crowd with hol­i­day songs af­ter the park’s dec­o­ra­tions were il­lu­mi­nated.

“Wow, ev­ery­thing is so big and pretty,” Leti­cia Munoz, 8, of Ham­mond, said as she and her sib­lings posed for pic­tures un­der the very long, col­or­ful train dec­o­ra­tion, lo­cated near the park’s gazebo. “This has been a fun night — I got to see Santa, I got candy and we get to run around the park.”

Sue Ellen Ross is a free­lance re­porter for the Post-Tri­bune.

SUE ELLEN ROSS/POST-TRI­BUNE PHO­TOS

Sally Gucwa and her daugh­ter Pru­dence Gucwa, 3, visit Main Square Park be­fore the pa­rade be­gan.

Af­ter the hol­i­day lights were turned on in High­land’s Main Square Park, some of the lit­tle vis­i­tors pose for pic­tures.

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