A Salute to Christmas
HUNTINGTON — Christmas spirit flooded the streets of downtown Huntington on Thursday evening as the 2012 Christmas Parade marched through the city.
This year marks the biggest parade in the event's history with 125 participants from local businesses, community organizations, churches and a variety of other groups, said Renee Maass, who organized the parade on behalf of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce. The parade was sponsored by Moses AutoMall of Huntington.
The theme of this year's parade was "A Salute To Christmas -- Honoring Our Local Heroes," and Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams served as its grand marshal.
Every manner of local hero was represented in the parade, Maass said.
"We have military veterans, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, teachers, nurses and anyone and everyone who is a hero in their community," Maass said. "What makes the parade great is that you can still have this tremendous event that everyone in the community can come to and have a good time while still supporting each other and the community's greater good."
All parade participants and spectators had the chance to be a hero by bringing jars of peanut butter to the event to be donated to the Huntington Area Food Bank and later distributed to local families in need.
The goal was to gather 2,012 jars of peanut butter, but it was too soon to tell if organizers had met that goal Thursday night even as peanut butter jars filled up baskets at Pullman Square, where the parade culminated with the lighting of Huntington's Christmas tree.
Maass said the event is serves as a way for Huntington residents to come together in holiday spirit, and Nakiya Weems said she and her 7-year-old daughter Niyah Weems were excited to spend an evening together.
"I just wanted to give her the chance to come out and experience the town she lives in," Nakiya Weems said. "It's easy to talk about all of the trouble and bad things kids can get into on the streets, and that's why it's important to have these positive things and give these kids a positive experience in their town."