Parade kicks off holiday season in Joliet
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org November 23, 2012 11:04PM
Art Ramsay makes sure that the Joliet Hog's float is ready for the Christmas Parade. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 26, 2012 6:27AM
JOLIET — Griselda Aldaco was talking about her family and enjoying the Light Up the Holidays parade when suddenly she had to dodge a flying loaf of bread.
The bread was among the many goodies thrown from the Milano Bakery truck as it rolled down Chicago Street on Friday evening as part of the city’s downtown parade.
A gift from a bakery was a warm thought as spectators braved unseasonable cold to enjoy the annual parade. Damian and Griselda Aldaco brought three bundled-up children — Hector Soto, 9, Gabriela Aldaco, 4, and Priscila Aldaco, 3 — to the event.
“We are here for the first time,” Damian said.
Before the big parade, Joliet lighted its downtown Christmas tree, a 40-foot-tall blue spruce, at Chicago and Van Buren streets, across from the Rialto Square Theatre. The tree is adorned with red, green and blue lights, red and gold bells and red and gold ball ornaments.
Homer Tree Care, which moved the tree downtown, participated in the Light Up the Holidays parade. One of the Lockport company’s trucks pulled a float with a two-story-high Frosty the Snowman.
St. Paul the Apostle School, on Woodlawn Avenue, had one of the more beautiful floats — light violet and golden angels stood behind a Christmas tree, which was essentially a conical swirl of gold lights. The float was understated yet striking, a perfect complement to the Rialto’s intricate columns in the background.
The columns of BMO Harris Bank along Van Buren Street were another classic backdrop to the parade. On its home turf, the bank had a neat parade entry, Harris’ lion mascot marched in front of a large green-and-yellow trolley car.
The Joliet Junior Woman’s Club had small, brightly colored train cars, adorned with Christmas lights, winding along the parade route and sounding a horn.
Chicagoland Speedway’s float had a small Christmas tree in an enclosure, and air currents lifted and carried small foam pieces around the tree, creating the appearance of whirling snow. Or popcorn. The latter interpretation is favored when the temperature is below freezing.
The St. Joe’s Pony Baseball display created the same warm feeling — a truck pulled a concession stand down Chicago Street. Hot dogs for the seventh inning, anyone?
And winter sports can be fun as well. The Jaguar Hockey Club had a float with a large jaguar, accompanied by a hockey player roller-blading along the parade route in a Morphsuit.
There were several bands marching in the parade and playing Christmas music. The Joliet Central High School band played “Sleigh Ride;” the Joliet West band was accompanied by a Tiger mascot; the Lockport Marching Porters performed “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing;” the Plainfield South High School band had red flags waving from tall candy canes and the Wilmington High band played “Jingle Bells.”
Hector Soto, who plays trombone at Sator Sanchez Elementary School in Joliet, said the bands were his favorite part of the parade.
Of course, Santa’s float was the grand finale. The Jolly Old Elf was perched atop a large snowy float with candy-cane railings. And just in case you missed him, he was followed by a towering Santa balloon, at least two stories tall.
Why two Santas? Must be because he has to check all those lists twice.