By LeeRoy Minnette
West Liberty University Adjunct Professor Rebecca Kiger’s photography students were given the task of taking Christmas parade pictures. Roy and Emily’s images below…
There are some unique aspects of Americana that will forever remain true – like cheeseburgers, baseball and parades. When or where else would you bundle your children up, sit or stand stationary, outside for 2 hours when it’s 20 degrees?
The Wheeling Christmas parade has been inviting the young and old from around the region to Wheeling’s downtown streets for 29 years, and for a lot of us it’s something we don’t want to miss.
Lisa Mullin, VP of Operations at the Wheeling Chamber of Commerce and director of the parade, describes the impact of the event: “We start planning in February, and it takes a lot of hours and a lot of hard work to make it happen … we strive to attract people from Wheeling and beyond, like Akron, Columbus and Pittsburgh … we want people to come to the area and make a weekend out of it, go to dinner, see the lights at Oglebay, see a show at the Capitol … that’s why we take things up a notch. We aren’t throwing candy anymore because we want to be more like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day and less like your everyday small-town parade.”
Setting such a high bar seems to be working. Lisa told us that among the 90 participants in the parade this year the one that had traveled the farthest was the band from St. Mary’s High School in Columbus – a group that contacted Lisa in August to make sure it was on the list. St. Mary’s, “travels the country and has played in parades in places like Disney.”
Here is one person’s first-hand perspective of the 2014 Perkins Restaurant and Bakery Fantasy in Lights Parade:
You can always count on 20-plus marching bands from around the valley giving the street-lined audience their take on classics like, “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Do You Hear What I hear?,” “Joy to the World,” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
Groups from schools like Magnolia High, Wheeling Middle joined with Bridgestreet Middle, Bishop Donahue High, Brooke High, Bridgeport High, Morgantown High, St. Clairsville High, and, of course, Wheeling Park High School, (there were MANY more), creatively enhanced the holiday spirit by attaching antlers on trumpets, draping batons like candy canes, and somehow attaching Christmas lights to flutes and clarinets.You cannot help when you see and hear a marching band coming down Market Street, no matter where they are from, to feel that sense of pride bubbling up in your belly as you think to yourself, “That’s right Shadyside … heck yea! – Merry Christmas!”
It will always be a fascinating experience when you witness your first troupe of young ladies, oblivious to the cold air and spinning and twirling down the dimly lit streets of Wheeling. Unfazed by the challenges of their environment, you can tell that their practice and determination are strong and that this is the moment they have been dreaming of for months. Mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters all put their hot chocolates down to applaud the masterful choreography they are witnessing.
A Variety of Floats
One of the great things about the parade is that you will always be surprised by a handful of unique, creative, and interesting floats. This year’s top vote getters were West Liberty University’s dental hygiene float: The Molar Express; and Bordas& Bordas and their group of Star Wars characters; and the puffy over-sized dancing whale and gang, “Noah’s Ark”; and, of course, the closing duo of Santa and Charles “Moondog” Waldrum.
We at Weelunk say, “Great Job Lisa Mullin, Erikka Storch and gang.”
We love when thousands of people are hanging out in downtown Wheeling on a Friday night.