The sidewalks of downtown Cape Girardeau will soon be packed with people as the Christmas Parade of Lights makes a return for its 10th year and again helps kick off the Christmas season at dusk on Sunday.
The parade begins at Capaha Park on Broadway and continues on Main Street in what should be about a two-hour event.
"It's gotten considerably bigger and considerably better," said parade chairman Kent Zickfield. "We used to have under 100 entries, and now we have over 100."
"People are doing a tremendous job on these floats. They put in a lot of thought and work," he said.
Like the group working on the Heartland Telephone float.
Last year, the Heartland Telephone's "Lion King" float won second place for appearance in floats over 25 feet. This year, the group is putting in just as much effort for another Disney-related float. They have been working with the Disney themes since they began participating in the parade about six years ago.
"The kids love it. You can constantly hear them screaming the names of the Disney characters," said Susan Tucker, the sister-in-law of Heartland Telephone owners Bob and Clara Tucker.
The Heartland group started thinking of ideas for this year's float immediately after last year's parade was over. But the actual work on the float began after the theme for this year's parade, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," was announced in October.
Since then it has been nonstop work for Susan Tucker and her sister, Diane Bowles, who are making the costumes and constructing the props. Props like a castle they have been making out of a refrigerator box and Styrofoam.
"We've been working on it probably for a month so far," Susan Tucker said. "But even when you're not working on it you're thinking about it or picking things up for it."
Taking up most of the sisters' time is the costumes that the people on the float will wear.
"We do a lot of work on the costumes. Our costumes look almost like they're rented," Susan Tucker said.
Clara Tucker is certainly a fan of the costumes. "It's amazing how talented they are," she said. "The things they do are really outstanding."
Although work on the costumes and props is done in the month leading up to the parade, Clara Tucker said the float is not put together until after Thanksgiving. A lot of the construction is actually done at Capaha Park several hours before the parade begins.
And she said her and her group are not the only ones making last-minute preparations.
"I've seen so many people at the park working frantically, making sure everything is perfect," Susan Tucker said.
All the hard work is not for nothing.
Thousands of people attend the parade from Cape Girardeau and beyond.
"It's not just a local parade," Zickfield said. "We've had people come from Southern Illinois and all down the Bootheel and up to Ste. Genevieve and St. Mary. It draws people from a wide area."
In addition to the parade, Sunday also marks the first of three days the Red House Interpretive Center will hold candlelight visits. During these visits the museum will be lit mostly by candlelight and decorated in greenery for the holidays. Outside will be 30 tin lanterns on the porch and on the walk leading up to the museum.
"It's to give people a little bit of a different look at the Red House," said museum director Linda Nash.
The museum workers are attempting to be as historically accurate as they can with the decorations to make it true to the 1804 time period the house represents.
For instance, there will be no Christmas trees, although Red House docents have made Christmas tree decorations to sell at the time of the candlelight visits to raise money for the museum.
The Red House will be open from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday and from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3 and Dec. 14.
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