Holiday parade lights the way to the Christmas season

The Mayor's Spirit of the Holidays Lighted Parade in downtown Manhattan, Kan. on Dec. 1, 2017. (Photo by Hailey McClellan | Collegian Media Group)

The Mayor’s Spirit of the Holidays Lighted Parade lit up Manhattan and helped many community members get into the holiday spirit Friday evening. With over 60 floats and foot entries, this year’s parade was the longest in the parade’s history, Ed Klimek, former Manhattan mayor, said.

In the last 16 years, Klimek said he has seen the parade grow to the point where some entries have to be turned away. This year’s parade featured entries from local businesses and organizations like IHOP, Manhattan High School, the Kansas State marching band and local radio stations.

Each float and foot entry in the parade boasted lights. Crowds gathered along Poyntz Avenue and Moro Street to watch cars flash while people wearing strings of blinking lights threw candy for children. The route ended near Triangle Park for the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.

“It’s great,” Klimek said. “Look at all the people and all the families. This is what it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be the family’s beginning to the Christmas season.”

Parade goers young and old gathered with their glow sticks, blankets and hot drinks while they waited for the parade to pass through. Angie Henson and Jim Henson, both residents of Westmoreland, Kansas, have attended the parade five-or-so times and enjoyed the festivity of it.

“It just kind of gets you in the Christmas mood,” Angie said.

Parade goers were also encouraged to donate to the Flint Hills Breadbasket during the parade and tree lighting ceremony. During the parade, shopping carts went along collecting donated non-perishable foods, according to an Aggieville Facebook post.

Maribeth Kieffer, director of the Flint Hills Breadbasket, thanked the volunteers and donors who supported this year’s parade.

“It takes a whole community to make this so supportive and happen, as you see,” Kieffer said. “It’s always humbling [how] fantastic of a community Manhattan is.”

Nancy King, instructor in hospitality management at K-State, said many hospitality students stepped up to volunteer, baking about 450 cookies, passing out hot chocolate during the tree lighting ceremony in Triangle Park and collecting donations for the Flint Hills Breadbasket.

“Lots of different students [volunteered], so it was a group project,” King said. “We asked for volunteers from the student groups, and they were willing to put their time in, so it worked out well.”

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