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XTO Energy Parade of Lights illuminates Black Friday

Relatively warm November temperatures and clear skies brought out a big, cheerful crowd to the XTO Energy Parade of Lights in downtown Fort Worth on Friday.

Cheerful except for several children who said that despite the good weather, their visibility was limited as they pursued their goal of this year’s first glimpse of Santa Claus.

Children tended to be shorter than the adults standing in front of them. And these adults, in the opinion of several people under 12, were huge.

Not even the Wheelie-ing Elvi, a troop of Elvis Presley look-a-likes on miniature motorcycles, could brighten the spirits of Tra-veone Thomas, 6, who traveled from Arlington with his mother, grandmother and sister, for the festivities.

“I’m not having a good time,” Thomas said. “I can’t see.”

However, his sister, Tionna Thomas, 4, was perched atop her mother’s shoulders was having a great time.

“I like the parade because it’s fun,” she said.

Some parents said traffic kept them from getting to the parade as quickly as they had wanted. They promised to start earlier next year.

“We’ve been stuck in traffic forever,” said Shirley Mitchell, a grandmother who brought 15 people, at least half of them children, in a three-car caravan from Boyd to Fort Worth.

Five blond girls related to Mitchell watched the marching bands go by from a flagpole stand at Houston and Ninth streets.

It was their first Parade of Lights, Mitchell said.

“I wanted to see the horses,” said Chelsey Frailey, 9. “My cousin likes the floats.”

The horses were favorites of several children, including Hailey Mowad, a 6-year-old Arlington resident.

“I like the way they run,” she said.

The parade, started in 1983, has grown into one of the largest illuminated holiday processions in Texas, with antique cars, marching bands, precision equestrian units, decorated horse-drawn carriages and strolling carolers.

Some organizations use the parade to introduce residents to services and amenities.

Parade Grand Marshal Miguel Harth-Bedoya, music director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, was accompanied by his wife, Maritza.

“I see this as a chance to celebrate, support, and represent the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Fort Worth arts community,” Harth-Bedoya said in an emailed statement. “Maritza and I are honored to have been invited to be grand marshals of an event that is so treasured by the people of Fort Worth.”

Jim Randle of McKinney said he learned about the parade on the Internet and decided to treat the three children in his family. While 9-year-old sisters Maddie and Katie Randle were thrilled by the cheerleaders and the marching bands, 4-year-old Tristan Randle said he was waiting for the star of the show.

“I want to see Santa,” he said.

Santa and Mrs. Claus finally made an appearance on a specially designed, LED-lit float sponsored by parade producers Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

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