CARBONDALE — The official opening to the Carbondale holiday season was met with pleasant weather — temperatures that didn’t induce cravings for hot chocolate and chunky sweaters, but it was conducive to watching a parade.
The 28th annual Lights Fantastic Parade was the biggest in the event’s history according to Jordan Wren, the newly-instated director of Carbondale Tourism said Saturday — he said there were 60 entries ranging from marching bands to antique cars and traditional floats
The 60 degree weather brought droves of spectators out Saturday as the streetlights were turned off and twinkling entertainment slowly marched down Illinois Ave.
The uncharacteristically warm weather didn’t stop people from bundling up under blankets and coats, nor from getting a hot cup of something as they waited. Pleasant as it was, the warm breeze made "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Good King Wenceslas" seem a bit out of place — there was never a more appropriate time for the surf-infused Beach Boys Christmas standards.
It’s a particularly special event for Wren — he said it’s always been a favorite of his and he’s excited for it to be his first big event as director — though he admits he’s been on the committee for the parade for more than five years. He said that committee tried pushing the event to new places this year.
“We all as a committee had a goal to bring more activities to today,” he said, noting the variety of events throughout the weekend including the inaugural Java Fest.
“I think the cool thing about it, it’s more so holiday (more than) Christmas” he said, pointing out that Carbondale is home to a variety of traditions and faiths, some religious, some not — and he said the committee wanted Lights Fantastic to celebrate all of it.
For Wren, he said he was excited this year to just be able to go outside and watch the parade — most of his work was on the front end so at 6 p.m. he got to watch with excitement as some of his favorite regular floats, the Schnuck’s shopping cart and Mr. Grinch, went by.