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Parade kicks off holidays

Hundreds gathered along South Second and Third streets Monday night as the Ironton Business Association’s annual Christmas parade made its way through the downtown.

Tuesday, November 30, 1999

Hundreds gathered along South Second and Third streets Monday night as the Ironton Business Association’s annual Christmas parade made its way through the downtown.

Eyes wide, Josh Stamper, 3, pointed at every spectacle to catch his eye in his wait to see one thing.

"Santa Claus," Josh said in wonder.

Standing on the corner of Railroad and South Second streets, Derek Manis, 3, could see when the parade began, and when the first beat of marching drums began, he began to jump up and down.

"Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho," Derek sang out in the chilly night air.

Derek’s older – more mature – 4-year-old brother Austin just stood on the edge of the sidewalk. The only signs of his excitement was a slight bounce as he waited.

"I want to see Ho-Ho," Austin said. "I like presents."

But there was more to see at the parade than Santa, who rode in the last carriage with his elves, said Cody Delong, 5.

"I came to see Chelsea," Cody said. Chelsea, his sister, would be marching with Brownie Troop 982.

"I like the horses, too," he added.

The excitement that filled the air brought a smile to Lou Pyles’s face. The IBA co-president organized this year’s parade, and though hectic, it was well worth the effort, she said.

"It’s been great," Mrs. Pyles said. "We’ve had a good turnout. There are a lot of people here."

Even the cold weather didn’t keep people from coming out and lining the streets, she said.

"It’s cooler than last year, but it puts you in the Christmas spirit," Mrs. Pyles said.

Riding in the first carriage behind the VFW Post 8850 Color Guard and Ironton High School Marching Band, this year’s grand marshal – Linda Barr – was too excited to feel the cold.

Mrs. Barr, a longtime area banker, retired recently and moved to Manchester.

A former IBA member, Mrs. Barr organized the event for the past eight years, and never hesitated when asked to come back to Ironton to ride in the front carriage.

"I’m so thrilled," she said. "I love parades, and this is just the ultimate to get to ride in the first carriage. I think back at all the people, B.J. (Hannan) and some of the others, who have been Grand Marshal and I’m just honored to be chosen to do this."

The Christmas spirit filled the air as carriages and floats made their way down the street.

Mrs. Pyles smiled as she sent the last carriage – the one carrying the anticipated St. Nick – on its way.

"Hopefully this will put everyone in the Christmas spirit," she said. "We work really hard each year to make it really nice for the children. They are what makes Christmas so special. Children and love, and happiness, that’s what Christmas is all about."

And parades, especially the Christmas ones, bring out the child in everyone.

Joey Aldridge has only missed one parade since he was 5 years old.

"I’m a big kid," the 17-year-old Pedro resident said. "It’s the joy of Christmas and how everyone gets into it. And, in my opinion, the parade celebrates Jesus’s birthday."

The parade also is the kickoff of the official Ironton shopping season. Beginning later this week, most of the area businesses will start staying open later weekdays and weekends, Mrs. Pyles said.

"We invite everyone to visit all the businesses downtown," Mrs. Pyles said.

And beginning Dec. 9, shoppers will be able to park without fear of getting a ticket if they spend too much time browsing.

All downtown meters will be bagged beginning that day, and there will be free parking for two weeks, Mrs. Pyles said.