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Festival of Lights parade puts twinkle in downtown

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Spectators began gathering downtown at about 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon to reserve their spots for the 22nd Annual Festival of Lights parade.

Intermittent camps of empty chairs lined Washington Street and occasionally one, lone person sat waiting for others to return.

Parents and kids sat on benches while others gathered on blankets on the edge of the curbs.

As daylight faded, the chairs lining the street became denser. In some cases, people were seated three deep with another row standing behind them yet.

Shortly after 6 p.m. a single Columbus Police Department car made its way slowly down Washington Street chirping its horn and flashing its lights to signal the start of the parade.

Local radio stations led the way down Washington toward the judges’ stand on Third Street.

The Columbus East Marching band played a medley of “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jingle Bell Rock” and were followed by the Diesel Dollz Roller Derby and the Cub Scouts. Sidekick Comics offered heroes and villains, including Captain America and Guy Fawkes, and Tyler Allen accompanied T and K Trucking with his No. 1 car.

Catina and Chris Furnish, who were grateful for the warm weather, brought their daughters Cassidy, 4, and Connelly, 3, to see their favorite characters.

Connelly sat in her fold-up chair anxiously waiting to see the Grinch.

“I want to see the Grinch,” Connelly said. “He’s my

favorite boy.”

Meanwhile, Cassidy sat

beside her patiently waiting to see Santa.

It wasn’t long before the Grinch made his way down Washington Street atop a sleigh pulled by a 1934 Ford.

Wearing a black fedora, black suit and dark sunglasses, the Grinch jammed to ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man,” a fuzzy, leopard-print guitar in hand.

Columbus resident April Poe sat with her two sons Daniel, 12, and Drew, 3, on a corner across from Breeden Realtors.

She said in past years they made sure to arrive at least 45 minutes early to get a good seat along the parade route, but this year they were a little late and barely found a place to set up their chairs.

Down the street, Bob Schnier was standing behind his family who were seated in chairs along the street near Papa’s Deli.

“I figured there would be a record crowd this year,” Schnier said. “It’s one of the warmest years on record.”

Local restaurants also enjoyed an influx of customers.

“We were full by 4:30 p.m.,” said Jason Schmatz, manager of Scotty’s Burger Joint.

“Normally, we don’t have a crowd on a Saturday night ‘til around 6 p.m.”

Hot chocolate and French pressed coffee were among the best sellers early in the evening, Schmatz said.

“We need to have parades every weekend,” he said.

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