Parade brings floats, candy for kids

Monday, November 26, 2001

Every year, 68-year-old Frankie Schott of Cape Girardeau kicks off the Christmas season the same way -- sitting in front of the Hecht's Too store with her family watching the Downtown Merchants Parade of Lights.

Schott, along with her husband, two children, daughter-in-law and five grandchildren, got downtown at 5 p.m. Sunday to stake out their annual parade-watching spot on Main Street.

"We sit in the same place every year," Schott said. "And we have been here every year since the parade started."

The Parade of Lights started in 1993 with 53 entries. This year more than 100 groups paraded down Broadway from Capaha Park to Main Street, where they turned right and continued on to Hutson's Furniture.

But this year's parade wasn't just larger than in years past. It was more patriotic too.

"This year there were so many flags," Schott said. "Combining the red, white and blue with the Christmas theme makes you feel proud. It gives you a good feeling knowing you'll still be able to celebrate Christmas despite everything that's going on."

As members of the Cape Girardeau American Legion made their way down Broadway carrying the American flag, hundreds of people lining the street stood and cheered.

And so the crowds did each time a float or group carrying a flag or members of the armed forces went passed.

But while adults were busy applauding the red, white and blue, kids were busy scrambling for the candy that was being tossed from the floats.

Eight-year-old Alyssa Davidson of Cape Girardeau said the floats were OK, but the candy was better.

"Ever since I was a baby I've come to see the floats and get some candy," she said. "Well, mostly the candy."

Davidson said she liked a lot of the floats, but there were too many to pick just one favorite. She did, however, know which one she like the least.

The SEMO Harley Owners Group chapter had about 50 motorcycles in the parade that drove down Broadway revving their engines and filling the air with exhaust fumes.

"When they drove by I was like, 'Ah!'" Davidson said, plugging her ears with her fingers.

Justin Schott, 14, of Jonesboro, Ill., said he didn't mind the noise. In fact, the HOG riders were his favorite.

"They were just cool," he said.

Schott said he looks forward to the Parade of Lights each year because it's a time to get together with his whole family and have fun.

Schott, grandson of Frankie Schott, watched the parade with his cousins and aunt Laurie Schott-Webster of Maryland Heights, Mo.

Schott-Webster, a native of Cape Girardeau, said each year after the parade the whole family goes out to dinner and then she and her children drive back to St. Louis.

"We've done it every year since the parade began," she said. "It's the family thing."

hkronmueller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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