BEVERLY - The annual Beverly-Waterford Christmas parade and lighting of holiday displays at Beverly's Dodge Park kicked off the Christmas season on Sunday for hundreds who lined the parade route in the Beverly and Waterford communities.
Kids scrambled for candy tossed onto the sidewalks by those riding floats and other parade vehicles.
"We had 14 buckets of candy to throw to the crowd," said Donna Arnold, co-advisor with the Muskingum Valley Leos Club who sponsored one of the parade units.
Heather Krigbaum, left, of Fayetteville, N.C., introduces 3-year-old daughter Madelyn to Santa Claus during the annual Christmas display lighting at Beverly’s Dodge Park Sunday night. (Photo by Sam Shawver)
Missy Antill, of Beverly, said the candy is a big favorite of children Morgan, 8, Mason, 6, and 2-year-old Maddox.
"But they also like to see Santa and the fire engines," she said. "And this is something we can do with the community."
Her husband, Russ Antill, agreed.
"We like to bring the kids to see the Christmas lighting every year, too," he said.
For the second year in a row, sisters Ryanne and Roxanne Hardman dressed one of their dogs in a festive Santa hat and sweater to walk in the parade.
"We sort of torture them, I guess," Roxanne Hardman admitted. "We just like to dress them up."
Ryanne Hardman said they shop around for just the right outfit for their pets.
"But they really don't seem to mind wearing them in the parade," she said.
One of the largest floats in the parade, trimmed with toy soldiers, teddy bears and other brightly-lit Christmas figures, was sponsored by Citizens Bank. The bank orders the floats from Creative Floats in New Philadelphia where they're designed and built by Bob Starkey.
"We've probably been sponsoring a float for about 15 years now, but we have to get our order in early because he builds floats for lots of parades every year," said Michele Ferguson, customer service manager for Citizens Bank.
She said the bank has already asked Starkey to reserve a float for next year's parade.
Bob Starkey's wife, Michele, said float-building keeps them busy.
"We put together eight floats just over this last weekend," she said. "We get orders from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and a recent one from Oklahoma."
Sponsored by the Beverly-Waterford Chamber of Commerce, the Dodge Park display lighting has taken place yearly since 1994, and has included the annual parade since 1995.
"We add a little more lighting and festivities every year," said Jane Dye, co-chairperson for the Beverly-Waterford Chamber of Commerce display lighting project.
She said the park displays will remain lit until Jan. 1.
"We've been doing this for 18 years now," Dye added. "It's a lot of work, but we get lots of help, too."
She noted the juniors and seniors in the electricity program at the Washington County Career Center help set up the variety of lighted displays throughout the park every year.
"We couldn't do this without them," Dye said.
Beverly Lions Club members also provided refreshments for the festivities, including plenty of hot chocolate and cookies baked locally by Frances Tornes of Tornes Cakes in Waterford.
"They ordered 50 dozen cookies this year, although at times it seemed like we were making 300 dozen," Tornes joked. "I started the baking off with six cups of brown sugar several days ago. It took us from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday to ice all 50 dozen Santa Claus cookies."
Lions Club president Linda Schaad said there was lots of hot chocolate to go around, too.
"We made about 20 gallons of hot chocolate this year," she said. "But it's a lot of fun and a real community project."
Walt Schaad said everyone pitches in to help with the event.
"These two communities really come together to make this happen every year," he said.