Annual lighted holiday parade about the children

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Dec. 4, 2010 at 6:04 a.m.
Updated Dec. 5, 2010 at 6:05 a.m.

The Shriners, with their holiday-decorated cars, putt around in formation at the Lighted Parade.

The Shriners, with their holiday-decorated cars, putt around in formation at the Lighted Parade.

Tom Rhodes hooked the legs of his 4-year-old son, Caleb, onto his shoulders and pointed toward the array of multi-colored lights crawling up North Street.

Caleb loves lights - the light-up sneakers on his tiny feet were a dead giveaway.

"Lights!" he incessantly repeated as each magical, holiday-themed float moved by at a snail's pace.

Victoria rang in Saturday night with the familiar sights and sounds of the annual lighted holiday parade.

The parade is organized and presented by the Victoria Parks and Recreation department, which estimated about 30,000 to 40,000 people attended Saturday's gathering, said Danielle Williams, recreation specialist.

Parking was all mapped out and controlled by the department's crew, as well as the Victoria Police Department, she said.

Vehicle after vehicle tried eagerly to find a parking space to watch the parade, some parking several blocks away just to catch a glimpse.

Rhodes, his wife, Joy, and their sons Caleb and 1-year-old Hanan, wouldn't have wanted to miss it.

The parade had a powerful meaning for Tom and Joy Rhodes, who were told they could not have children.

Each second the family spent tirelessly watching a float go down was a moment remembered because it stood as a testament of their family, the family they always wanted, Tom Rhodes said.

"This is just for the kids," he said smiling, looking up at his son as Christmas lights danced in his small pupils. "We weren't even able to have kids. It's a miracle."

Will Williams, 62, had mutual feelings about the parade's meaning.

Williams traveled from Cuero with his wife and four grandchildren for the same reason the Rhodes had - for the children.

His grandchildren sat on the curb with his wife as he watched from toward the back, farther away from the action.

"Mainly, it's for the grand kids. They're at a good age for a parade," said Williams, who lived in Victoria for 30 years before moving to Cuero in 2000. "Even though we've lived in Cuero for 10 years, we come over here for this parade because this is a really nice night parade."

But the parade holds a special meaning for Williams as well, who served in Vietnam as a machine gunner.

Watching veterans and military men march with the parade is Williams' testament.

"That's always the best part," he said. "That type of thing is good for the country."

Eli Fuentes' five children also sat on the curb, farther down Ben Wilson Street, which was the tail-end of the parade's route.

Seeing his children smile and wave in awe of floats carrying dogs, elf dancers and even the Grinch, was all worth it, Fuentes said.

"Anything set aside for the kids is great," he said. "We need more events like this for the kids."

Related: To see all the other photos of the parade, shot by the Advocate photo editor



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