Toronto wraps up day with parade

TORONTO – Despite the chilly temperature there were hundreds of warm hearts among the spectators who turned out for the annual Toronto Great Expectations Christmas Parade Saturday evening.

The event, sponsored by the city chamber and the Focus in Toronto organization, featured everything from dancing troupes to youngsters on horseback to old Saint Nick himself waving to hopeful youngsters.

Hundreds lined the Gem City’s downtown area to enjoy the sound and feel of the holiday season, including Pam Cordle of Smithfield, whose daughter was participating in Saturday’s parade.

“My daughter Sahara Stewart is in the Sassy Shakers (dance troupe),” said Cordle who was enjoying the day with her boyfriend Josh Smith, also of Smithfield. “This our third parade today.”

Cordle said this wasn’t her first time at the Toronto parade.

“They always go big when they do it,” she said. She added her favorite part of the parade were the trucks and the candy thrown by those riding in floats.

Brandy Wagner of New Somerset said she was in the city to watch the Toronto Wrestling Tournament at the high school and decided to stay to watch the parade.

“We brought seven other people with us,” said Wagner, adding she especially liked the city school district’s new high school. “It’s really nice. I really like the cafetorium. We come here, sit and watch the parade from the same spot every year.”

Her friend Jennifer Blackburn of Steubenville said this was her first time watching the Toronto parade, and she was impressed.

Blackburn, who was in the city to watch the wrestling tournament, said, “We go to a lot of events here in Toronto. They do a lot of family-oriented, community-driven events here. We thought we’d just come down and enjoy the Christmas spirit here.”

And there was much to enjoy, including floats sponsored by Toronto Apothecary pharmacy, the Riverside Market and the North River Avenue Christian Church. The Toronto High School Marching Band impressed with a medley of Christmas songs, while members of Cub Scout Pack 47 spread holiday cheer on their float. Local 4-H’ers rode horses down Fourth Street as part of the event.

Diane Julio, 1st Ward councilman and parade judge, said she was having a wonderful time enjoying the parade.

“This is my second time as a judge,” she said. “I feel honored. This is the actual kickoff of the Christmas season. I like the floats, and I like to watch the young people when they perform.”

The judges chose the Sassy Shakers, first place, for the dancing troupes; the Generations of Steppaz as second; and the Gem City Dance as third. The winning floats included the 4-H Club, first place; Heavenly Bodies Fitness, second; and Riverside Market, third.