this afternoon to take my grandchildren - Alexandra (4) and Andrew (2) to see the 20th Annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Parade.
We got into town early enough to peek at a few store windows, sip on a couple of mocha lattes, do a little Christmas shopping and, finally, stop at a charming little restaurant that prized itself on its quick service and good food. Just what we needed.
The parade started at sundown and marked the official start of the holiday season. It attracted over 500,000 parade watchers - locals and visitors alike.
Parade floats featured more than one million twinkling lights and dozens and dozens of huge helium balloons - in shapes that delighted young and old alike.
Alexandra's favorite float carried a giant, red Elmo balloon. Andrew liked the float carrying a bright green toy locomotive. Staring at it, he kept saying, "I think I can. I think I can!"
Being a collector of German, hand-carved nutcrackers, I loved seeing the float that carried a giant toy soldier. Watching it go by, I couldn't help but think about the music from The Nutcracker Ballet. Before long, the tune was in my head and refusing to leave.
Then, there were other floats that were all lit up and simply beautiful. Some featured Christmas trees in all colors and sizes; others were decorated with brilliant holiday packages. All were amazing!
As these glorious floats passed by, the delighted adults in the crowd went crazy. All seemed to be clapping their hands, blowing horns, activating noisemakers and screaming wildly. All were happy expressions of love and approval.
Then came the final float - carrying dear old Saint Nick. It was the one we all had been waiting for!