WEIRTON - The sights and sounds of the Christmas season were on full display along Main Street in Weirton Saturday night as crowds gathered to watch the Weirton Christmas Parade.
The annual event, organized each year by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce, featured a variety of holiday-inspired floats, music and other attractions, as well as a fireworks display to cap off the festivities.
With a theme of "A West Virginia Christmas," in honor of the state's sesquicentennial, the parade mixed in the state's colors of blue and gold with the traditional red and green of Christmas. It was led by local representatives to the state Legislature, including Del. Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, Del. Ronnie Jones, D-Hancock, Del. Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, state Sen. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg, and state Sen. Rocky Fitzsimmons, D-Wheeling, who acted as grand marshals.
Chamber President Brenda Mull said she was pleased with the parade, noting the weather had been good all day and there had been a large crowd gathered along Main Street throughout the festivities.
"The crowd really seemed to enjoy it," she said. "It gets better every year."
This year's parade was sponsored by West Virginia Northern Community College, Weirton Medical Center, First Choice America Community Federal Credit Union, and Nick's Auto.
Local representatives to the state Legislature, including Dels. Randy Swartzmiller, Ronnie Jones, and Phil Diserio, and state Sens. Jack Yost and Rocky Fitzsimmons, served as the grand marshals of the parade, which had a theme of 'A West Virginia Christmas.' -- Craig Howell
While the Grinch made an appearance, he couldn't steal the Christmas spirit from the crowd during the Weirton Christmas Parade Saturday. The Grinch was taken into custody shortly before the parade ended after being caught trying to take away several presents along the parade route. -- Craig Howell
Several area businesses and organizations entered festive floats in Saturday's Weirton Christmas Parade, including this one from Weirton Medical Center, featuring employees of the local hospital. -- Craig Howell
"Weirton Medical Center has really experienced unprecedented growth in 2013 and we couldn't do it without the community," hospital Communications Director Kelli McCoy said. "This is our way of being a part of something great while saying thank you!"
In addition to serving as a sponsor, Nick's Auto Sales assisted with pulling many of the commercial floats in Saturday's parade. The family owned business has been a part of the Weirton community for 31 years and is always looking for a way to contribute.
"When we're able to give back to the community and celebrate, we like to do it," Jodi Snodgrass said.
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Scott Winwood, president and chief executive officer of First Choice credit union, thanked the chamber for the opportunity to continue to be part of the local Christmas traditions. The credit union has been a long-time sponsor of the parade.
"As I watched the parade units move down Main Street, I was very proud of our community's effort to celebrate the Christmas season in a way that was meaningful for everyone," Winwood said. "Also, I am very proud of First Choice America Credit Union's continuing support of a local tradition that deserves to be sustained. Our credit union joined the celebration with a dazzling parade float, and the riders included children and friends of our employees. Cheers to the Chamber! The parade is a great way to welcome in the Christmas season."
Several floats traveled along Main Street, decorated with various festive colors and lights. Marching bands from Weir High and Weir Middle, Brooke High, Follansbee Middle and Oak Glen High played various musical selections, and several local dance schools performed while making their way along the parade route.
The evening concluded with a fireworks display, made possible through the support of Hancock County Savings Banks, the grand finale sponsor; Marsh Pipe and Supply; MedExpress; Doane Family Enterprises; and MonPower.
(Howell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)