WASHINGTON — Not even Clark Griswold could top the Christmas lights in the Washington square Saturday night. Beginning with the live radio play and wrapping up with a lighted parade, more than 1,000 people came out to enjoy the events of the night.
Just as it began to get dark around town, the lights in the Washington Public Library came on and 14 actors assumed their positions at microphones. For the fourth year, the Washington Community Theater teamed up with KCII Radio and the library to provide a live radio show.
Director Chris Hanson said he got the idea a few years ago and both entities were on board immediately. The music to accompany the show was played live with Washington High School senior John Flannery playing piano and Mara Maas of Iowa City on harp.
People gathered outside the windows to watch the play unfold as it was simultaneously played live on the radio for the folks at home to listen to. Around the inside of the square, guests took advantage of free hayrack rides until Santa Clause himself arrived to display some holiday magic.
After choosing a special helper for the night, Santa used magic to turn on the lights on the North, South, West and East sides of the square. Once the town was lit up, people quickly flocked to the sidewalks to get ready for the annual holiday lighted parade.
Sarah Grunewaldt, Main Street Washington Executive Director, said the parade is always what she looks forward to the most. Having grown up near the Twin Cities, she has gone to a similar event before that is no longer around. She said it makes Washington special that it is able to accomplish something similar on a smaller scale and keep the tradition alive.
“It’s kind of unique for a small town to put on a holiday lighted parade,” she said. “It’s fun to see this continue when that has gone away.”
Grunewaldt said there were many new floats this year that included new businesses in the area and a group walking to honor the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment in 2020. She said the event brings in about 1,000-1,500 people every year which goes to show how much Washington cares not just about Christmas, but keeping traditions alive.
“I think people like kicking off the holidays early and celebrating because it’s fun,” she said. “We have a beautiful downtown to gather in, so why not?”