MARIETTA - Washington County welcomed the Christmas season Saturday with two parades featuring Santa Claus, the first on Saturday afternoon in downtown Marietta and the second in the early evening in Belpre.
Despite the cold weather, the crowds at both parades appeared to be enthusiastic about the upcoming holiday season.
Marietta's parade was first, beginning at 1p.m.
The Marietta High School Wall of Sound is decked out in red and green for the annual Marietta Christmas Parade on Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)
Bundled up and ready to see Santa Claus in Marietta on Saturday afternoon were, from left, Madison Lewis, Nicky Calvert, Kayla Calvert and William Calvert. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)
Harry Irvine, of Belpre, and Melissa Tidd, of Marietta, wait for the Belpre Holiday Lights Parade to begin on Saturday evening. They also displayed their float in Marietta’s Christmas Parade on Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)
Nicky Calvert, a Columbus resident who will soon be moving to Marietta, said she and her children were looking forward to different things in the parade. One was looking forward to candy thrown from the floats and fire trucks and another wanted to see reindeer. Of course, they both wanted to see Santa Claus.
Calvert said Saturday was her first visit to the Marietta parade.
"I look forward to coming out here and spending some family time," she said. "It's all about the kids."
Calvert said the parade allowed her to spend quality with her children.
"That's what Christmas if for; spending family time," she said. "It's quality moments like this when you get to go back to when you were a kid and spending time with the family.
"It's kind of like a reflection."
Rob and Mary Byrd said they have made it to the Marietta parade every year.
"We used to live in Parkersburg and went to the parade there," said Mary Byrd. "This parade is a nice parade."
Rob said their son Brian also enjoys the parade.
"Brian really enjoys the season," he said.
The Belpre Holiday Lights Parade took place Saturday evening on Washington Boulevard, between Belpre High School and Howes Grove Park. During the parade, the Belpre High School Band was part of the show again in an unusual manner. Instead of marching, the band's members rode in a float and played seasonal favorites.
"We are trying to rebuild the marching band program," said Bill Van Pelt, BHS band director. "It's a young group, we have 45 in band class, they aren't ready to march yet."
Van Pelt said the float made it possible for the group to get back in the community eye and gather support for their efforts.
"We want to make them visible, get them out in the community, so we decided to have them on a float," he said.
Crystal Barnes, of Belpre, said her family came out for the lighted parade despite the chilly weather on Saturday night.
"This is the first one and we plan to go to others," she said.