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Christmas parades through Williamsport

December 03, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WILLIAMSPORT - Hundreds of people lined the streets of Williamsport on Sunday to watch the town's annual Christmas parade despite chilly temperatures and light rainfall.

For many, watching the parade is a tradition that is followed by walking to Byron Memorial Park to see the town's holiday light display.

"It's a Williamsport tradition," said Mayor James G. McCleaf II. "And it's very important to everyone in the town."

While Santa Claus waved to children from the rear of the parade, many said he wasn't the crowd favorite. Most said they were there to support members of Williamsport High and Springfield Middle schools' marching bands.

Local Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA groups, Williamsport's fire and emergency services vehicles, a military vehicle and a horse and buggy also took part in the parade.

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Cecil Bittinger, of Hagerstown, and his wife, Donna, said they have watched the parade for the past several years, looking for their grandchildren, who are band members.

"There's a sense of pride (in our grandchildren)," Cecil said. "And I think they look forward to us being here."

Nancy Kelley's son, Matthew, and her daughter, Kayla, are both in Williamsport High School's marching band. The Williamsport resident said it will be her son's last Christmas parade.

"He's a senior, so it's his last one," she said.

Kelley said she enjoys the Christmas music the marching band performs during the parade each year, and said she was pleased that so many people were there to support the students despite the rain.

Kim Hunley, of Williams-port, brought her three daughters, Lakya Mills, Lakyla Mills and Kaylee Mills, to the parade and to see the Christmas lights Sunday. Hunley said it was their first time at the parade.

Kaylee, whose fourth birthday was Sunday, said her favorite part was seeing Santa Claus.

Jessica Coffman, 10, of Downsville, said she likes to see the Christmas lights each year.

"They're pretty and bright, and I like them," she said.

McCleaf said the town's public works department organizes the light display and said he was unsure how many lights fill the park each year.

One new addition to the display is a fountain with several ice skaters surrounding it. McCleaf said the $6,000 it cost for the new figures came from a car show. Donations will be collected this year to expand the display again, he said.

A new sound system also was installed, and Christmas music will play each night when the lights are turned on.

This also was the first year the town had a master of ceremonies for the event - Maurice Snyder, the town's historian.

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