Tens of thousands turn out for annual Colorado Springs Festival of Lights parade

JOE PURTELL joe.purtell@gazette.com - Updated: December 2, 2017 at 9:56 pm • Published: December 2, 2017 0

Following tradition, Colorado Springs' 33rd annual Festival of Lights parade Saturday featured a cast of thousands, viewed by tens of thousands lining downtown streets on a relatively mild winter night.

The parade, which kicks off the city's holiday season a week after Thanksgiving, had about 5,000 participants, 70 floats, 10 marching bands, service dogs, horses and garbage trucks.

The garbage trucks weren't cleaning up, they were part of this year's parade. Provided by Waste Connections, the trucks had lights and Christmas themed decorations on their hydraulic arms. The creativity won them one of the awards, best special unit.

Reindeer lead Santa's sleigh in the final float of the Festival of Lights on Saturday, December 2, 2017. 

About 60,000 people turned out for the show, lining up hours before the parade stepped off at 5:50 p.m.

For once, the spectators didn't have to huddle under blankets - the temperature was in the high 40s, rather than the usual low teens, when the parade began.

Erik Gillespie, left, shows off different lights to Ayla Kenoyer, 6, at the Festival of Lights before the parade starts on Saturday, December 2, 2017. Vendors sold lights up and down the parade route for kids to join in. 

Among them was Janet Cruz, who said she had been coming to the parade for the past 18 years, and her friend, Marissa Norwood, who said this year was her 20th.

"Since I was a kid," Norwood said. The two brought friends and family of all ages.

"We've got people from San Diego, Hawaii," Cruz said. "Everybody came in."

"It's good to see the community coming out," she added.

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