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20131214 ALTON Christmas-parade IMG 0051Early on, it looked like rain would threaten the eighth annual Alton Christmas parade, but by 11 a.m. the skies cleared up, giving way to only slightly cool temperatures.

Families happily lined 5 Mile Road, sitting on bleachers and curbs, ready for the action, as Alton city officials lined up floats down the road. The sirens of emergency vehicles announced the procession, which city leaders boasted included 50 percent more entries than last year.

Seated in a float made to look like a train car (“City of Alton named after the Alton Railroad” a banner states), Miss Alton 2014 in a blue sequined evening gown waved to the crowd. Dancers from Domingo Treviño Middle School with pom poms at their sides led the way for the Husky band behind Miss Alton.

Meanwhile, members of the Lions Club waved from a float with a nativity set up and a banner that read “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and Jensen Elementary cheerleaders cheered from another trailer.

Afterward, lines formed outside the city’s recreation center. Inside, booths were set up by various companies giving out goodies like dolls, make-up and food. Families were to get cards checked at each of the booths before heading to the main toy station and meeting with Santa.

“We’re getting a little bit bigger and so the expectations in the community are to have events that are typical of your bigger cities,” said City Manager Jorge Arcaute. “We’re not as big as the McAllens and Edinburgs, but it is something that the community demands.”

The event is sponsored by the Alton Chamber of Commerce with help of donations from around the community. Felipe Gomez, chamber president, said the whole thing takes about three months to set up.

Saturday, Gomez said he was happy with the turnout, and about 20 minutes into the giveaway, he said he’s seen more people than he expected.

“It’s a time of giving,” Gomez said. “It’s one day out of the year that we’re in here just to give back to the community.”

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