Christmas parade brings Manhattan community together

Mayor Usha Reddi rides down Aggieville in her Christmas-decorated float for the Mayor’s Christmas Holiday Lighted Parade on Dec. 2, 2016. During the parade, nonperishable foods were collected for the Flint Hills Breadbasket. (Meg Shearer | The Collegian)

The streets were lined with holiday cheer Friday night at the annual Christmas parade. The Flint Hills Breadbasket and Mayor Usha Reddi hosted the Mayor’s Christmas Spirit of the Holidays Lighted Parade.

The parade began in Manhattan Town Center and went through downtown Manhattan, ending at Triangle Park in Aggieville for the annual tree lighting ceremony.

Addie Simon, freshman in animal sciences and industry, attended the parade for the first time this year.

“I never realized how much Manhattan does for the community,” Simon said. “It’s a great college town, but it’s also a really good town for families; it was cool seeing so many people here.”

Parade-goers varied from young children to college students and everything in between. Malissa Nash, Junction City resident, was in town for another event when she noticed the parade.

“I have heard about the parade before, but I have never been, so we decided to come over before dinner,” Nash said. “The (K-State) marching band was off the chain; I was blown away.”

The parade brought together the K-State community and the local community. The K-State marching band, the Salvation Army, Manhattan schools and area churches were just a few of the organizations represented throughout the parade.

With finals season in full swing, the parade offered a study break for some students. Shannon Heiser, freshman in animal sciences and industry, also attended the parade for the first time this year.

“I didn’t even know about the parade; we just happened to run into it,” Heiser said. “It was nice to take a break from the stress of studying and actually enjoy the Christmas season.”

The parade not only spread Christmas cheer, it doubled as a community-wide fundraiser, supporting the Flint Hills Breadbasket. The Breadbasket received nonperishable food items and monetary donations.

The night ended with holiday tunes sung by the Manhattan High School choir and the tree lighting ceremony. The mayor’s tree was decorated with 2,000 purple and white light bulbs, keeping the K-State spirit present throughout the holiday season.