By Jeffrey Saulton
Special to The Times
PARKERSBURG - Parade lovers of all ages were out Saturday for two Christmas parades in the Mid-Ohio Valley as Vienna and Parkersburg welcomed the holiday season.
Parkersburg Christmas Parade co-director Lori Ullmann-Wright said the parade had 110 units from businesses, churches, schools and Scout troops marching down Market Street from 19th Street to the Wood County Courthouse in downtown Parkersburg.
Returning to the parade this year was Kyle Stewart, an actor from Clarksburg to portray Santa Claus, and Ullman-Wright reprised her role as Mrs. Claus. She said the elves on the float passing out candy on the street were students in the Wood County Technical Center Broadcast Technology class.
Despite the cold weather a large crowd turned out for the parade, which was themed "A Winter Wonderland."
Ullmann-Wright said the parade committee appreciated the units, many of whom also participated in the Vienna Christmas Parade on Saturday morning.
"We also appreciate the cooperation of the bands from Parkersburg High School and Parkersburg South," she said. "They agreed South would lead the parade and then Parkersburg High would be before Santa Claus. Instead of trading off each year, they decided on this arrangement."
Sue Ellen and Lynn Dodrill watched the parade Saturday from the front steps of their Market Street home with their dog, Benji. Dodrill said they have watched the parade from their home for several years and they also enjoy the Parkersburg Homecoming Parade from the same vantage point.
"Last year we sat under the tree to watch the Homecoming Parade," she said, adding Benji was experiencing his second Christmas parade.
Kelley Boggess brought her daughter, Londen, to the parade for the first time.
"It was a cool parade," she said.
Mae Cain, of Parkersburg, took in the parade with her two grandchildren and son.
"I thought it was a fantastic parade," she said. "The only thing I didn't like there was a gap in the parade and a lot of people left thinking that was the end of the parade."
Cain said her grandson, Zion James Cain, enjoyed the parade. Cain's son, James, and granddaughter, Angel, also agreed the parade was a good event.
"It was awesome," she said.
Earlier in the day an enthusiastic crowd turned out for the Vienna Christmas Parade. Despite the cold weather the crowd lined a 23-block stretch of Grand Central Avenue for the annual event. At press time the winners of the parade had not been determined.
Like the Parkersburg parade, Vienna's parade was led off by the Parkersburg South High School band and Santa Claus was led by the band from Parkersburg High School.
About 125 units from Scout troops, churches and other groups were part of the parade.
Parade organizer Betty Carpenter said some units that had been expected for the parade withdrew.
"Some school band withdrew since this was the ACT test day and the pipes and drum corps said the weather was too cold for them to play their instruments," she said.
Carpenter said this parade was her 25th and last Vienna Christmas Parade.
"I'm retiring after this year," she said. "I've done it for 25 years and I think it's time for someone else to take over."
Carpenter said a new feature of the parade with floats from churches presenting passages from the biblical account was suggested by two members of a local church.
"Two ladies from Wayside United Methodist Church came to me with the idea and I thought it was wonderful," she said. "We got a lot of good comments about this after the parade."
Kelly Winter, of Vienna, was at the parade with her child, Brylee. She said Brylee, who is 3, seemed to enjoy the parade.
"This was the second time she's been to a Christmas Parade," she said. "As it went by she jumped and wiggled and was loving every minute of it."
Paul Borelli, a noted local photographer, was the parade marshal of the Parkersburg parade and outgoing state Senator Frank Deem was the parade marshal of the Vienna parade.
Float winners in the Parkersburg parade:
First: Valley Beauty School
Second: Home Depot
Third: Party Supplies and Creations Plus
First: Black Diamond Girl Scout Council Mountaineer Service Unit
Second: Murphytown Baptist Church
Third: Cub Scout Pack 60
Winners in the Vienna parade:
First: Mel's Diamond House
Second: Home Depot
First: St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church
Second: Vienna Child Care Center
First: Cub Scouts Pack 20
Second: Girl Scouts Troop 5689