Kicking off the Christmas parade
Santa gets warm welcome in Highland
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.
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.