BELPRE - Christmas began Saturday with the annual Belpre Holiday Lights Festival Parade, complete with floats, clowns, beauty queens and equestrian units all decked out with lights.
Also on hand at the end was a pair of visitors from the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Hundreds of children of all ages were on hand Saturday as the parade made its way from Belpre High School to Howes Grove Park in the cool, dark evening.
JEFFREY SAULTON Special to The Times
The Pioneer Antique Power Association entered a float in the Belpre Holiday Lights Festival Parade that looked like a steam locomotive.
Santa Claus was also on hand at Civitan Park following the parade for the children to give him their wish lists and to hand out candy.
Nancy Sams, a member of the Belpre Holiday Lights Festival Committee, said about 50 units created by families, churches and other organizations took part in the parade. There were also a number of walking groups and volunteer fire departments decked out with lights for the parade, she said
All units were required to be lighted and those walking were asked to carry either battery-operated candle lights or battery-pack light strings.
Sams said at Civitan Park more than 100 families gathered at the bandstand for the children to tell old St. Nick they have been good and what they hope he will be able to bring them on Christmas morning.
Santa and Mrs. Claus were sponsored by the lights committee and rode with the Belpre Homecoming Queens, Junior and Little Miss and Mister Christmas winners.
During the Holiday Lights Festival which runs through year's end, Belpre is filled with 100 light displays on exhibit throughout the city. City residents were encouraged to have their displays lit for the parade.
New displays this year included "People, Like Snow Flakes, are Unique," an animated display for Leavitt's of Belpre, and "The Mid-Ohio Valley Wide Trackers Car Club Emblem."
All displays in Howes Grove Park, River Access Park and Civitan Park will be lit between 6 and 11 p.m. until Jan. 2.