THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT

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More than four hours before the 80th annual Owensboro Christmas Parade began Saturday, Cherokee Parker had already planted herself and several lawn chairs along Second Street in front of the Daviess County Courthouse

Despite the cold, brisk wind blowing through downtown, Parker, who arrived around noon for the 4:30 p.m. parade, said she volunteers every year to be the seat saver for her family and friends.

“It’s worth it to me so we can sit together and not be stressed about finding a spot,” said Parker who was bundled up in her chair. “Within the next hour, two hours, we’ll have a few more people start trickling down. So I’m not the only crazy one.”

By 4 p.m., Parker was joined by a large crowd that lined the sidewalks of downtown Owensboro in anticipation for the 98 units that were entered into this year’s parade.

With temperatures in the 40s, heavy coats, scarves and gloves were the attire for most parade attendees.

Camped out near the intersection of Second and Triplett streets was Chris Warren, his 10-year-old son, Nolan Warren, and 10-year-old friend Hayden Crabtree.

Warren kept his small group warm with a firepit that was fueled by a propane tank.

“We brought the firepit a couple years ago when it was this cold, and it worked out well,” he said. “I knew with today, being another cold day, it would be a good idea. … Even with the cold, it’s always a great parade that kicks off the holiday season; they put a lot of work into it, and the kids always enjoy it.”

Covered with blankets were Meagan Beasley and Becky Elmore, who drove from Ohio County to see the largest Christmas parade in the state.

They brought 2-year-old Zane and 5-year-old Alicen, who were anticipating the Minions.

“It’s memories to be made,” Elmore said. “That’s why we’re here.”

One of the more festive onlookers was Sam Fitzgerald, who was dressed in his red and white Santa coat and hat.

Fitzgerald said he annually attends the parade and brought his 6-year-old granddaughter, Emalie, this year.

“We do it every year and it’s for the grandkids now,” Fitzgerald said. “… They call me ‘Samta Claus.’ ”

Parade Winners

Schools and school clubs: 1. Daviess County High School Dance Team; 2. Apollo Habitat for Humanity; 3. Apollo FFA.

Organizations, clubs and Scouts: 1. Cub Scouts Pack 120; 2. Owensboro Health; (Tie) 3. Star Squad Dance team and 3. the Grinch

Church organizations: 1. Saint Joseph & Paul Catholic Church; 2. River City Church; 3. Arc of Owensboro/Masonville United Methodist Church

Governments and municipalities: 1. City of Owensboro Street Department: 2. Owensboro Riverport; 3. Owensboro Municipal Utilities Electric Department

Commercial: 1. Glenn Funeral Home; 2. Kentuckiana Animal Clinic; 3. Twin Rivers

Most effective use of lighting: Saint Joseph & Paul Catholic Church

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