By Traci Moyer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Riley Ferguson, 5, watched wide-eyed as twinkling Christmas lights floated merrily along Meridian Street.
Wrapped in a blanket, a thick winter coat and proudly sporting a headband with candy canes, Ferguson knew exactly what was coming toward her.
“Christmas,” she said with glee.
Ferguson, of Anderson, was one of the hundreds of people gathered in the city’s downtown for the Christmas Parade.
Armed with a Christmas stocking, Ferguson quickly scooped up handfuls of candy being tossed by people on floats decked out in garland and lights.
Within minutes, her stocking was stuffed.
“She has never seen a night parade,” said Candy Stone, 24, of Anderson. “They should definitely have another one.”
Friday’s parade was the first in the city since 2009, and even the chilly temperatures and whipping winds could not dampen the evening’s festivities.
The weather was a big concern, said Frank Owens, director of development for the city. Prior to the parade, Owens said he was both nervous and excited for the evening’s events.
“My biggest worry was the rain,” Owens said. “It’s cold, but at least it will not be raining.”
Owens was overseeing the lineup of more than 60 parade entries Friday afternoon and putting the finishing touches on Mayor Kevin Smith’s Elf Cart 1, which was layered in garland, lights and festive ribbons.
“Everyone has been working hard today, but everything is ready,” he said. “It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been fun.”
And that hard work was on display, from the corner stands offering free cookies and milk to the Christmas carols being sung by local school children during the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree.
For those looking for a little extra excitement, a 27-foot high zip line was set up Anderson Town Center, beckoning the bold and the brave, including 10-year-old Ashton O’Sullivan.
“He told me he was afraid of heights,” said Lindsey Cocco, O’Sullivan’s aunt.
O’Sullivan leapt without hesitation from the top of the zip line, sailing toward the brightly lit Paramount Theatre.
“That was fun,” he said after dismounting.
Nearby, Marcy Schloegl, 41, of Mooreland, huddled outside the city’s municipal building holding two cartons of cold milk and a cookie. She said she brought her three children to Anderson to watch the tree lighting and Christmas parade.
“This is a surprise,” Schloegl said as her children, unaware of what was about to happen, joined hundreds of other people gathered on the corner of Eighth and Main streets.
She said the parade was long overdue.
“It gives a sense of community to Anderson,” she said.
David Lindley, 65, of Anderson couldn’t agree more. Lindley was standing along the parade route along Meridian Street noting the make and model of the vehicles in the parade to his wife.
“I miss these days,” he said. “We would like to see more of them.”
His only complaint? It was chilly.
“I do mind the cold, but the good Lord gave me extra insulation, so I will be fine,” Lindley said with a laugh.
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