STEUBENVILLE - Call it the Miracle of Fourth Street.
A steady rain stopped completely just two minutes before noon Saturday and a nearly 90 unit parade brought the sights and sounds of Christmas past back to downtown Steubenville.
Marching bands, dance groups, horses and dogs and Santa Claus made their appearance for the Eastern Gateway Community College Christmas parade under just cloudy and dry skies.
PARADE?— Nearly 90 units marched in the hour long Christmas parade Saturday that saw Steubenville native Rich Donnelly serve as Grand Marshall. -- Dave Gossett
For more than an hour, adults and children cheered, waved and collected candy from the parade participants who braved the threat of rain to entertain the crowd who lined Fourth Street.
"The Lord gave us a beautiful hour of no rain and I was honored to be back in my home town serving as the parade grand marshal," said professional baseball coach Rich Donnelley after the event.
"The rain stopped for the parade and now that it is over we are getting some rain again. But it was a beautiful day. This was a great event and it makes me proud to be from Steubenville. We should all be proud of our parade today because it was wonderful," added Donnelley.
Jerry Barilla, a city native and president of the Historic Fort Steuben board of trustees called the parade, "the best I have ever seen in my memory."
"It does make you proud to be part of this city. This was one of the best parades we have in Steubenville in a very long time. I hope this is the beginning of a new tradition of pride in our community as we prepared to celebrate the holiday season," Barilla added.
Theresa Kelly, a seventh grader at Bishop John King Music Junior High School watched her older sister march with the Catholic Central High School marching band.
"This was an awesome parade and I can hardly wait till I am in the parade next year. And it was exciting to see Santa Claus in the carriage," she said.
Her friend, Anna Knight, said the parade put her in the mood for Christmas.
"The music and all of the people were really nice. It was a fun day to be downtown," remarked Knight.
Ed Zorne and his two and a half year old grandson Jace Alia of Steubenville sat in folding chairs in front of the Huntington Bank building.
"This is his third parade this year. I think he likes collecting candy from the people in the parade. And he likes to see Santa Claus," Zorne explained.
Russell and Mary Ann Clark of Rayland arrived early to find a prime spot to watch their granddaughter ride in the Team Automotive truck.
"The rain we had before the parade started really wasn't bad. And then it stopped so this was a good parade to watch," noted Mary Ann Clark.
Bob DiFonzo stood on the Fourth Street curb making sure his niece and nephew from Weirton collected enough candy and waving to people he knew passing by.
"Here comes my alma mater. I was in the Weir High marching band a long time ago," said DiFonzo.
"Merry Christmas," he called out to everyone who looked his way during the parade.
"It was wonderful to see so many people turn out to watch the parade. A lot of credit goes to the Steubenville Events Committee and so many others who volunteered to organize this parade. People worked long hours building floats or preparing their parade exhibits. Others brought their antique cars and animals and just did everything they could to make this afternoon a success," stated Ann Koon of Eastern Gateway Community College.
The rain returned after the parade was finished but participants and visitors to the downtown were all smiles and wishing each other Season Greetings and a congratulations for an excellent event.
And there was no quick exit for Donnelly and his wife Roberta.
After riding in the lead vehicle the Donnelly's stayed to applaud and cheer for the 87 floats and units who came behind them.
And while walking to their car parked several blocks away Rich Donnelly emphasized his belief in his home town.
"This was a great day for Steubenville and we should all be proud. Proud of our town and the people who live here," Donnelly said.