Cape Girardeau's Parade of Lights delights all ages

Monday, December 8, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Rudolph and Cinderella go caroling on a float presented by KWKZ Pure Country C106 in the Christmas Parade of Lights on Broadway in Cape Girardeau Sunday night.

Despite temperatures hovering just below freezing, people began setting up lawn chairs on Broadway as early as 3 p.m. to get ready for the annual Parade of Lights in Cape Girardeau.

Audrey Schubert of Jackson nestled into a niche at the corner near the Royal N'Orleans with her two grandsons, Jerod, 3, and Logan, 1, and their mother, Rachel Broshuis. Schubert said she and her daughter arrived at 4 p.m. to find a sheltered spot and would stay until the boys wanted to leave. They'd parked nearby, just north of Broadway.

As with many of the hundreds along the parade route, the Parade of Lights is a tradition not to be missed for Shubert.

Marla Mills, executive director of Old Town Cape, sounded delighted with the turnout, especially after rain Nov. 30 forced the parade to be rescheduled. She said less than a dozen parade entries were unable to reschedule, many of them high school marching bands.

The parade featured more than 80 floats, "still a good number, and it made for a really nice parade," Mills said. "I think there was a really, really good crowd on both sides of the parade route."

FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Members of the St. Vincent de Paul Parish School band perform Sunday night in the Parade of Lights in Cape Girardeau.

Police were unable to provide a crowd estimate.

The parade's lone marching band represented Anna-Jonesboro Community High School and walked off with a second-place prize for music. The Harley-Davidson Group won first place for music, with a float featuring an Elvis impersonator singing "Blue Christmas."

Spectators who arrived appeared prepared to sit in the cold for hours. Most brought some kind of hot drink, often hot chocolate. Many wore Santa-style caps.

Last week's cancellation was good news for the McMullen family of Jackson. Kate McMullen said her husband, Scottie McMullen, had to work Nov. 30 but was free Sunday. The couple brought their three children Isaiah, 7, Noah, 5, and Nate, 2, along with a big container of hot chocolate, some sandwiches and potato chips. The boys, clad in winter coats, gloves, heavy pants and warm shoes, sat on thick blankets and snuggled under a few more while their parents sat on lawn chairs with blankets of their own.

"It is cold," said Kate McMullen, rubbing her gloved hands together.

Isaiah, responding to a question about just how cold it was, said, "100 percent" but went on to say it was worth it to see the motorcycles roar down the parade route.

Down the street and in the open air sat a Cape Girardeau family, Will Rogers and Stephanie Byers with their children, Brittany, 12, Gavin, 8, and Keaton, 7, and family friend Julie Schoolfield. They said the Parade of Lights is a tradition.

"The kids like to see the lights and Santa," Byers said.

"And the candy!" Gavin added.

Floats were judged in seven categories, with a special chairman's trophy, by Roseanne Whitlow of Southeast Missouri State University, Cherie Herbst of Southeast's Hoover Center, Betty Seesing-Roth of Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau, Debbie Farrow of Rust and Martin Coco Industries, and Sondra Fitzpatrick of the Beard Law Firm. First-place winners this year were:

* Theme: Pure Country 106

* Appearance (more than 25 feet): Pagliai's Pizza & Pasta

* Appearance (less than 25 feet): UPS Store

* Best Music: Harley-Davidson Group

* Best Lighting: Whitewater Fire Department

* Enthusiasm: Cape Shriners

Broadway Prescription won the chairman's trophy.

Wayne and Karen Turley of Jackson served as parade grand marshalls.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

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