River parade kicks off Christmas season in Oklahoma City

As many as 20,000 braved the cold to watch Santa Claus, fireworks show bring up the rear of 24-float parade down the Oklahoma River on Friday.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: November 24, 2012
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With her 6-month-old daughter strapped to her chest, Melanie Hill of Oklahoma City watched with her 3-year-old son, Jackson, her husband, Michael, and his sister, Lauren Vinson, who had a toddler strapped to her as well.

“It's nice to have a free family thing to do, especially when you have people in town,” she said.

“We thought he would like it because he likes the lights,” she said of Jackson. “But he's ready to go now — he's cold.”

The river parade has slumbered by the city's boathouse district every year since 2004 except one, when a construction project there prohibited the congregation.

Mike McAuliffe, parade chairman, said it was started as a celebration of the city's first MAPS project. Money raised by sponsors goes to the Oklahoma River Foundation fund.

“The idea is to get the fund up to a million, and once we get it up to a million we'll start using the interest that the fund generates to start doing improvements on the riverfront,” he said.

He said Friday's weather — about 45 degrees, with a slight north wind — was typical, if not warm.

“We've had nights where it was 30 degrees out and the wind blowing, so actually this is kind of balmy for us,” he said.

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