Thursday was a magical night in downtown McAlester.
Families and friends gathered to line the 2018 McAlester Christmas Parade route along Carl Albert Parkway and Choctaw Avenue, with everyone inching into the street in the hopes of getting the first peek at Santa Claus waving at the end.
A Magical Disney Christmas was the parade's theme, intended to highlight the progress being made in downtown McAlester.
Bundled-up children giggled and waved at live Disney characters walking down the streets during the parade. They marveled at the elaborate floats inspired by “Finding Nemo,” “Frozen,” “Star Wars,” and more. They mirrored the moves of local dance and cheer teams, and mimicked playing instruments like band members marching in the parade.
Parents smiled as they watched their children light up as fire trucks honked their way through town — perhaps remembering when they, too, were astonished by the lights and sounds of a holiday parade.
The parade would not have been possible without the 85 entries — the biggest McAlester parade in recent history — and the hundreds of people volunteering their time to craft the floats that captured children’s imaginations.
But adding to the magic of this year’s event was a winter wonderland pieced together by city employees.
City of McAlester employees worked for weeks on displays and decorations to help turn Choctaw Avenue into a holiday wonderland just in time for the parade.
Signs pointed toward “Candycane Lane” and warned of “Reindeer Crossing;” a gingerbread village with a ski lift was on display; 12 Christmas trees lined the streets; and more decorations brought holiday cheer to the event.
The opening of the McAlester Community Ice Rink at the Farmers Market, set for next Friday, Dec. 14, will also make the city and surrounding area more festive for the holiday season.
Projects like the parade and the winter wonderland bring people in the community together during a time when differences can drive people apart.
We thank City Manager Pete Stasiak and everyone involved in the winter wonderland, the parade and other events amplifying holiday cheer.