Residents brave cold, enjoy tradition (w/video, gallery)

Bianca Montes By Bianca Montes

Dec. 7, 2013 at 6:07 a.m.

Eight-year-old Zoey Banda watched her breath as it lingered over a cup of hot chocolate.

The weather in Victoria had dipped into the low 30s on Saturday night, but that did not keep the young girl from laughing and waving as floats adorned in Christmas lights passed her.

This was tradition.

A scanty group of shivering people gathered downtown to enjoy Victoria's annual Lighted Christmas Parade, and despite the near-freezing temperatures, the holiday show went on.

"We were excited that as many people showed up that did," said Colby VanGundy, parks and recreation director.

Victoria Independent School District, which had 22 entries, announced its withdrawal from the parade a few hours before the event began.

"We don't want to put our students in a situation where the weather will make them ill or sick," said Superintendent Robert Jaklich. "It's just not in their best interest."

David Banda, 27, of Victoria, said there was no way that cold weather would keep his family from attending the parade. Both David and his wife began the tradition with their own families when they were children, and once they were married, they began to bring their three daughters to the parade every year.

"It's something that they can pass on to their kids one day," he said.

Beauty queens waving and a tiny train brought smiles to the Banda girls' faces, but when it came time to pick a favorite, Zoey cried, "It's too hard to choose. I like them all."

Her mother, however, knew exactly what she enjoyed the most.

"Their expressions," Celia Banda, 30, said. "Seeing their expressions - they get so excited."

Between 30 to 40 entries actually took part in the parade, a dip from the 136 registered parade entries.

Josh Garrett, with the city of Victoria, said it was still hard choosing the winners.

The judges awarded best use of lights to Crazy Jumps Party Rentals, most spirited to University of Houston-Victoria Student Life and most creative float went to Victoria Public Works.

"It was nuts," Garrett said about the Public Works float. "They had a man being lowered into a sewer."

A jolly ol' fat Santa dancing from atop a float concluded the parade, sending families home filled with the holiday spirit.

"It really makes it feel like Christmastime," Celia Banda said. "Once the parade's here, you know it's not too far away."



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