PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The 134th annual Santa Claus Parade rings in Christmas cheer in Downtown Peoria Friday morning.
The longest, continuously running Santa Claus parade in the nation is put on by Peoria Area Community Events (PACE). This year was “A Candyland Christmas,” featuring people’s favorite costumed movie and TV characters, school marching bands, dozens of festive floats.
Held on Black Friday every year, spectators said attending the parade is a way to continue family fun after Thanksgiving. Naomi Rubb came with her sisters this year and said it’s a good way to get into a festive mood.
“It’s just kind of a tradition to go, and it’s the Christmas season started,” said Rubb.
Neil and Jaclyn Whitlock said it’s their first time at the parade, and it was impressive and fun to watch with their children.
“I was really impressed with the big gingerbread house and the pirate ship,” Jaclyn Whitlock said. “It was worth being out in the cold for.”
Parade-goers also said after a hard Christmas season of social distancing and limited gatherings last year, it’s heartwarming and refreshing to be around others to celebrate the yuletide again.
“It just makes it feel like it’s just back to normal Christmas again.” Neil Whitlock said.
In response to the tragic events that killed six people at a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Peoria Police changed the parade route to increase public safety.
The parade began at Peoria Central Firehouse on Monroe Street, then proceeded to Main Street, turned left onto Adams Street, and ended past the Peoria County Courthouse on Hamilton Boulevard.