Crowds brave frigid temperatures for holiday parade

By Corene Brisendine

You want spirit?

Celebrants who braved the cold Friday night for the Mayor’s Spirit of the Holiday Lighted Parade gave new meaning to the word.

And however much spirit was involved, hardly anyone dared stay outside without a few breaks.

Kathryn Talbot and her daughter, Sarah, popped into Varney’s Book Store to warm up as temperatures crept down to single digits as they waited for the parade to reach Aggieville.

Talbot said she was there waiting for her son, Roman, who was part of the walking Nativity scene from the Manhattan Catholic Schools.

She said before they left, she made sure he double dressed with two pairs of jeans and two shirts under his shepherd’s costume.

Talbot and her daughter brought a blanket to wrap up in as the parade marched past them. Other spectators did the same.

Groups of people huddled together, cheering on the brave souls who waved and sang Christmas carols to the crowd.

Although the K-State Marching Band didn’t make it, the 1st Infantry Division Band marched without instruments to the beat of a snare drum and sang “Jingle Bells.”

The 1st Infantry Division mounted color guard won the Mayor’s Choice award in the parade, but the cavalry did not stick around to collect their $200 in Chamber Bucks – because temperatures had dropped too low to be safe for their horses.

Commissioner Karen McCulloh joked that they should have passed out electric blankets as prizes for braving the winter cold.

Mayor John Matta said the city would continue to take donations for the Flint Hills Breadbasket, even though the turnout for the parade was sparse.

The parade is staged, in part, to gather food and money to support the local food pantry during the holidays.

As soon as the mayor lit the ceremonial tree in Triangle Park, the crowd quickly headed indoors –  to exchange Christmas cheer in safer and more comfortable surroundings.

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