If Friday's shopping frenzy wasn't proof of Christmas' imminence, the festive parade of light-strewn riverboats on the Oklahoma River certainly was.
For Ali Perez, who drove over from Tulsa to shop with her parents and four siblings, the day after Thanksgiving was a blend of both.
Faces pressed against the windows of the Chesapeake Finish Line Tower, the Perezes were among several dozen who paid to watch the Oklahoma City Holiday River Parade in a more comfortable setting than the thousands who lined the riverbank outside for the free event.
“I like it, it's nice,” she said, watching a riverboat adorned with a lighted Santa Claus theme scoot by before driving home. “The kids are starting to get into the Christmas spirit, seeing all the lights and Santa Claus.”
As many as 20,000 people braved the cool air — rubbing their hands together and bouncing on their legs — as the city's version of the annual holiday parade officially opened the season.
Two dozen decorated boats made their way down the river, with Santa bringing up the rear. At the end, a fireworks show dazzled the brave who stuck around for the hourlong event.
Among the favorite floats: Allied Arts' Whoville, complete with a dancing Grinch and members of the Oklahoma Children's Theatre dressed as Whos; Mercy Hospital's toy theme, with a giant Jack-in-the-box built for two; and Christmas tunes from Norman High School's trombone quartet.