Melissa Luman was born and raised Akron. Since childhood, she has been coming downtown to watch the annual Welcome Santa Holiday Parade.

"My mom and I would always come to watch," she said. "Sometimes it would snow or rain and I still made my mom come out with me."

To this day, Luman, 35, and her family look forward to the parade.

"Rain or shine, we always come every year," she said. "It's like a tradition. We make a whole day out of it."

Luman and her family were among hundreds of people lined up along West Bowery Street and Main Street on Saturday morning to watch the 32nd annual event.

The weather wasn't as cooperative as last year, when temperatures were around 50 degrees and the skies were mostly clear. But the low-40 temperatures and overcast skies with periodic rainfalls didn't stop people from attending this year's parade.

Parents and kids bundled up in raincoats, gloves and hats and carried heavy-duty umbrellas. Some even hid under the doorways of buildings or watched the parade from the trunks of their cars.

The Akron Police Department motorcycle unit and honor guard led the parade. They were among more than 50 participants, including marching bands, dance troupes, antique cars, Corvette sports cars, firetrucks, horses and the Akron Metro Park Hiking Club.

Webster, the Akron RubberDucks mascot, even made an appearance in the parade.

And, of course, there was Santa, who arrived at the tail of the line and greeted dozens of people at Lock 3 Park after the parade ended.

Jenna Dugan of Akron has been bringing her 5-year-old daughter, Brielle, to the holiday parade every year the girl has been alive.

She said Brielle becomes more excited for it each year.

Brielle had a smile stretched across her face when she saw and pointed to the horses walking past her.

"Horsies," the daughter said. "I like horsies."

Due to ongoing road construction, this year's parade followed a new course, starting at West Exchange Street and traveling along West Bowery Street.

In previous years, Luman's usual spot was somewhere along Main Street. Due to the construction, she sat along Bowery Street with her family.

"Yeah, it's definitely different, but sometimes that's good," she said. "I got a chance to see the parade in a different way this year."

 

Brandon Bounds can be reached at 330-996-3762 or bbounds@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow Bounds on Twitter @brandonbounds_.