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Light up the night: Holiday parade shows local businesses, welcomes Santa

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Not even authentic North Pole weather could stifle the first annual Holiday Light Parade as it welcomed Santa and the beginning of the holiday season.

Hundreds of Columbus residents huddled on 13th Street the evening of Nov. 17 to watch local businesses and organizations show off their holiday floats and welcome the big man himself: Santa Claus.

In the past, Claus has arrived after Thanksgiving, but with the addition of this year's Holiday Light Parade, he decided to make an early visit to join the parade in the back of an antique firetruck.

"I'm a little earlier than I'm normally here, next week is actually the big day for Santa to come in for the holidays but this is kind of a prelim. It's nice to have the parade so that worked out pretty well," Claus said.

Claus, who made the daring voyage from his workshop to Columbus in time for the parade, settled into his house in Frankfort Square to ask Columbus' kids what they want for Christmas.

"[The best part is] kids, especially the little ones. That's the neat part, they anticipate the coming of Santa. When we're coming down the streets, the littler ones are the ones stepping out and looking," Claus said.

The parade's inaugural run, according to parents with children waiting to see Santa, was a success.

"I thought it was real neat, we loved the idea of it, a fun activity to do," said Josh Shank, parent of an eager Santa visitor. "We got here a little late, so all we saw was the parade and now we're doing this."

"I think just seeing everybody out and about is exciting. I think they did a great job, very entertaining," Tina Castille, another parent, said.

The parade was a collaborative effort between the Downtown Business Association and Columbus Parks and Recreation.

Parks and Recreation Manager Betsy Eckhardt said she thought things went well for the parade's maiden voyage.

"I think for the first time it went pretty well. I think everybody enjoyed the parade go downtown, having Santa arrive on a firetruck," Eckhardt said. "Obviously I loved the parade but my favorite part is when all the lights come on downtown, the lights on the lampposts and in the square make downtown feel really festive."

Santa will be in his house Saturdays and Sundays from noon-4 p.m. and Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. from Nov. 26 through Dec. 22 for visits.

Jared Barton can be reached at jared.barton@lee.net.

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