By Danny RESTIVO
Holiday spirit was on full display in the city’s downtown Saturday.
Hundreds of families lined Federal Street’s sidewalks for the 2012 Youngstown Holiday Parade and Festival. Community members of all ages watched as floats, bands, firetrucks and Youngstown businesses shared in offering “Season’s Greetings.”
The event also was an opportunity for some residents to experience a revitalized downtown. Valerie Holcomb of Youngstown brought her two grandchildren Emma Holcomb, 6, and Tyler Holcomb, 2. While the children patiently waited to see Santa Claus wave to them, their grandmother recalled how she experienced the downtown holiday parade when she was a teenager. Holcomb said she could remember watching the event from the fifth-floor window of McKelvey’s department store on West Federal Street. She said memories of the parade are an important reminder of why downtown is important to the city.
“It has made so much progress from what it used to be,” she said. “We need downtown, and parades like this is where it begins.”
After the parade, families gathered around the 30-foot tree to watch as it was set aglow by an ornamental light display. This year’s tree, a Colorado blue spruce donated by the Vecchiarelli family of Youngstown.
It was used by many as a backdrop for family photos.
John and Marrie Rue Hannon took pictures of their two girls, Kaira Idora, 4, and Ayla, 5. Both children had a hard time sitting still as they were visibly excited to see Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
“We’re going to see Santa!,” they exclaimed.
Inside 20 Federal Place, children and parents enjoyed cotton candy, games, crafts, chestnuts, and a ride aboard a miniature train. Though they were all popular attractions, the line of kids waiting to see the man from the North Pole proved to be the main attraction.
Justin Mitchell of Youngstown waited in line with his three children, Anthony, 10; Adrienne, 7; and Lucy, 2. All three sat on Mr. and Mrs. Claus’ lap, but they sat quietly as none of the children knew what they wanted for Christmas yet. While the youngsters still have 23 days until Santa slides down their chimney, their father believes it won’t be long till they know what they want for Christmas.
“I’m sure they will be in the holiday spirit soon enough,” he said.
Saturday’s parade and festival included representatives from 21-WFMJ TV, Youngstown CityScape, First Night Youngstown, Choffin Career & Technical Center, Oh WOW! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology and Youngstown State University.