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Frankfort opens Christmas season with parade

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SANTA IS COMING TO TOWN: Santa rides in style around the courthouse square during Sunday’sannual Christmas parade at downtown Frankfort. Santa will be available for children and parents to visit at Veterans Park throughout the month.
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CHRISTMAS CHEER: Macy Ostler hands out candy while walking the parade route Sunday at downtown Frankfort.
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DECORATING DOWNTOWN: A Frankfort Parks Department employee attaches a giant candy cane along with garland and a wreath to one of the street lights along the perimeter of the courthouse square last week. AARON KENNEDY/akennedy@ftimes.com

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

Frankfort kicked off the season with its annual Christmas parade Sunday and will keep the holiday spirit alive through the rest of the month.

Originally scheduled for Saturday, the “Christmas in Toyland” parade was pushed to Sunday after forecasts indicated there was a chance of thunderstorms.

“It went great, it really did,” Frankfort Main Street President Joe Palmer said. “The wind was a little cool, but we got it through, and it started raining afterward.

“It actually looked like we had about the same amount of people (as previous years),” Palmer added. “I am going to estimate that we had 4,000 to 5,000 in town throughout the parade route. It all went pretty smooth. I think we lost two or three entries, but we picked up a couple, too, for Sunday. It all went well.”

It was a cold and windy day so, during the parade, some members and officers of Eagles Lodge #976 walked the parade route, handing out gloves and hats to those who needed them.

“That’s the big item that we always do – hats and gloves,” Eagles Lodge #976 Vice President Billy Birge said. “This year, my wife, family and I helped with that. We gave out several hundred men, women and children’s gloves and hats. I know it was appreciated by a lot of people.”

The winter wear is purchased by Eagles Lodge #976.

“The Eagles Lodge does a lot for the community as far as giving and that sort of stuff,” Birge said. “We are pretty significant when it comes to giving to the Girls and Boys Club, YMCA, (etc.) … We gave to get equipment for the disabled children at Green Street Park. Eagles does a lot for the community, especially youth organizations, and we usually don’t bat an eye when it comes to helping people out.”

After the parade, children and parents who were still enjoying downtown were able to visit with Santa at Veterans Park. Santa will continue to be available for children to share their Christmas wishes on Thursday from 6-8 p.m. as well as Friday and Saturday (6-9 p.m.), Sunday (2-4 p.m.), Monday through Dec.13 (6-8 p.m.), Dec. 14-15 (6-9 p.m.), Dec. 16 (2-4 p.m.), Dec. 17-20 (6-8 p.m.), Dec. 21-22 (6-9), Dec. 23 (2-4 p.m.) and Christmas Eve from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Veterans Park will also be where you can board the Santa Express from 6-9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday before Christmas for a 30 minute express ride through TPA Park’s Holiday Festival of Lights. Cost is $4 for adults and $2 for children.

“The express will still be running,” Palmer said. “The Parks Department has done a beautiful job this year, and not only at the park. We have had a lot of participation in the downtown area. The county chipped in on lights around the courthouse. Center Township stepped up to the plate and helped buy a lot of the garland and lights around the square itself. Nickle Plate Flats ended up purchasing some, and I believe Ivy Tech did.”

Thanks to the cooperation of many partners, downtown Frankfort will be beautifully lit with Christmas lights each night as Christmas music plays.

“It is nice to have them come together, it really is,” Palmer said. “The Parks Department is the one that decorated downtown, and their employees are just fantastic.”

The Holiday Festival of Lights features more than one million Christmas lights over almost 90 acres and has already been drawing a crowd.

“It is going well,” Frankfort Parks Department Superintendent Travis Sheets said. “We have seen a huge response this year with folks visiting TPA park. It has been much more organized with it being one way through TPA park. It alleviates some of the traffic on Kyger Street because of that. But, still, there have been nights when we have had traffic backed up all the way to Jackson Street. We have had some huge nights.”

For those who enjoy visiting Frankfort’s downtown businesses, Frankfort Main Street’s Scavenger Hunt has been going on since Nov. 24 and will continue until Dec. 22. The theme of the scavenger hunt is, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.” Frankfort Main Street hides 10 bells a week, both indoors and outdoors, throughout the Downtown Frankfort Historical District and posts a clue at least every Monday on the Frankfort Main Street Facebook page. Each bell has a prize value of at least $10 from participating businesses. There are prizes for adults and kids. When you find a bell, take it to the business listed on the tag to redeem your prize. Participating businesses will take your picture with the bell and prize.