Carol and Wilford Walters, whose grandson Greg is in the Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School Marching Band, came out to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
“I’m very thrilled they’re having a parade that has to do with the true meaning of Christmas,” Carol said.
Joe and Anna Marie Rodkey of Altoona said they’re happy the parade focuses on Christmas, too.
“You’re always a kid at heart when you come to a Christmas parade,” Anna Marie said, adding that the parade shows community spirit.
“I’m glad the city promotes [the parade],” Joe said. “This is something the city needs.”
Mayor Wayne Hippo said the parade is “like no other” and should be one of Altoona’s “signature events.”
“People need to make the effort to come out,” he said.
Gladys Weatherly of Altoona and her daughter Patricia made the effort to “enjoy the spirit of Christmas,’’ Gladys said.
“This is awesome,” Patricia said. “It’s a good way to kick off the holiday.”
Travis and Krista Reading of Altoona brought their children —Hannah, 7, and Austin, 4, — to the parade for a second year. The family stayed warm with hot chocolate while they waited to see Santa Claus.
“It gets you in the mood for Christmas,” Travis said.
Krista said the family already decorated their tree and plan to tackle the outdoor lights next.
“This is pretty much the decorating time,” she said.
First Baptist Church of Altoona passed out free hot chocolate to paradegoers.
“We like to reach out to the community,” said Eileen Conlon, a member of the church. ‘‘We’re always in the spirit of giving.’’
The church will host a musical called “Christmas is Forever: Unchanging Love in an Ever-changing World” at 7 p.m. Dec. 15 and 16.
The parade included marching bands from throughout the county.
Keith and Roosevelt junior high school bands performed for the last time in a Christmas parade. The students will attend Altoona Area Junior High School next year.
The evening ended with the lighting of the Unity Tree at Heritage Plaza and a fireworks display.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Clegg is at 949-7030.
(Mirror photo by Jason Sipes)
Jeremy Swartz plays the trombone as the Keith Junior High School Marching Band marches through Altoona Thursday evening during the Spirit of Christmas parade.