Underneath falling snowflakes and sparkling strings of lights, dozens of families huddled in vehicles and along sidewalks to watch the yearly Winter Lights Parade in Spanish Fork.
The parade has become a family tradition for Springville residents Stacie and Nico Castaneda and their three kids. The couple started attending the event together more than six years ago and continued coming ever since.
“We eat Chinese food here and then watch the parade,” Stacie Castaneda said, gesturing to the nest of blankets piled in the back of their vehicle. “That’s our little tradition.”
The Winter Lights Parade started almost 15 years ago with three or four floats, said Heather Youd, the president and CEO of the Spanish Fork Salem Chamber of Commerce.
Organizers with the Chamber of Commerce initially wanted to draw residents downtown to shop at local business during Black Friday, but the parade became more popular and eventually evolved into an annual city event.
“I love to see everyone’s creative sides,” Youd said. “It’s a good way for them to promote their businesses.”
Although 32 floats were scheduled to appear, the parade was slightly shorter due to the cold temperatures.
But the weather didn’t stop Lynn York, of Santaquin, and her grandkids bundled in winter coats and scarves.
“We come every year,” she said. “Last year it was raining and really cold but they do it every year rain or shine.”
Floats came lit up in all shapes, sizes and colors, including trailers filled with blowup Christmas characters, and numerous people dressed up as elves or the Grinch.
Tiffany Litchfield, of Springville, said she enjoys bringing her family to a holiday event free of charge.
“It’s a unique thing for Christmas,” she said. “And the weather isn’t that bad.”
Entries were not allowed to throw candy since the parade happened after sunset, and each float had to feature lights. As always, the last float featured Santa Claus waving and greeting the kids along the route.
Spanish Fork resident Nick Dutson missed seeing the parade with his two daughters, but the family was able to meet Santa Claus where the parade ended near the Spanish Fork City Offices.
“I love this year and I love Christmas,” said 4-year-old Jaelyn Dutson with a smile. “He said to me, ‘Merry Christmas to you, sweetie.’”