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Lincoln Sparkled Last Saturday

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Santa Claus was in town early this year, when he made an appearance Saturday during the annual Holiday Sparkle parade. The Christmas spirit came alive as an all-ages crowd showed up to watch the parade and witness the lighting of the Christmas tree in Beermann Plaza. Steve Art, economic and redevelopment manager for the city of Lincoln, announced each parade participant and float as they turned onto F Street from Fifth Street, and estimated 2,500 spectators lined the downtown Lincoln streets. “There were more people watching the parade this year. It gets bigger and bigger each year,” said Ruth Alves, the holiday parade committee chairwoman. The parade closed with Santa riding on an old fire truck. “It was great as always, a great way to kick off the holiday season,” Art said after the parade. There were 45 entries in this year’s parade, according to Terri Reeves, events coordinator for the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. In addition to Santa Claus, a variety of residents, businesses and organizations participated in the parade, including several 4-H clubs and the Lincoln High School marching band. “It’s just exciting to do this,” said Lincoln High School marching band member Lionel Avila, 14. “I like it all around. It is fun.” Art estimated 200 children participated in the parade in groups such as Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, and the Adventure Christian School pep squad. “There were so many little kids on all these floats and they were waving before there were even people to wave at,” Alves said. “(The kids) are exactly what Christmas is all about. They were just beaming as people were waving at them.” Some four-legged creatures were also involved, including horses, goats and dogs, some of which rode on floats. Rhian Brinskele, 16, rode on the Mount Pheasant 4-H float with Emma the Border collie and Sarah, a pygmy goat. While being on the float “is probably not the most ideal thing” for the animals, Rhian said, “they behave.” Many of the people on floats or walking in the parade threw candy to spectators. “It’s fun. We love the animals and all of the candy,” Megan Fidler said. Living in Lincoln for a year, she liked the “nice family atmosphere” the parade offered. Her son James, 5, was collecting candy and said his favorite part of the parade was the goats. “They are so cute because they are little,” James said. Lincoln Hills residents Jim and Jan Warren both grew up in the Midwest and Jim Warren said Saturday night’s festivities reminded the couple of where they grew up. “We just love the small-town atmosphere,” Jan Warren said, when asked what she liked about the parade and tree-lighting. The Christmas tree was lit following the ceremony, which included musical performances by the Lincoln High School jazz band and the Carlin C. Coppin choir. Mayor Spencer Short counted down from 10, before lighting the tree. He thanked spectators for attending and wished the crowd, “Merry Christmas and happy holidays.” “It’s very tall, big and bright,” said Sophie Genigeorgis, 9, about the tree. “It reminds me of Christmas and reminds me of presents.” Sophie’s mother, Cheryl Wiker-Genigeorgis, said the countdown to the Christmas tree lighting was her favorite part of the festivities that day, “because it’s exciting for all of the kids for the tree lights to come on.” “I like the positive spirit of Christmas and that it’s not about the material aspect,” Wiker-Genigeorgis said. After the tree lighting, some spectators stayed to look at the tree and take pictures, including 9-year-old Tyler Peacock. “I thought it was really cool,” said Tyler about the tree-lighting ceremony. “I think it’s (the Christmas tree) really big and cool that our town has one.”