Rapid City recharges holiday spirit with Festival of Light parad - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City recharges holiday spirit with Festival of Light parade

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With Thanksgiving in the rear-view mirror, it's time to look toward the Christmas season.
 
Rapid City kicked off the celebration Saturday night like it has for the last decade and a half.

Ninety-one floats; tens of thousands of people; lights, upon lights, upon lights. It can only mean one thing: the 15th annual Festival of Lights parade.
 
"They have a lot bigger parade here than what a lot of other towns have," said Darrel Cox, a Vale man in town for the holiday.
 
People come from pretty close by and not so close by: We met people lining the streets from Sioux Falls; Bismarck, N.D.; and Texas.
 
It was a new experience for some -- "Just wanted to see the lights," first-timer Carol McCloud said. Added Eva Martinez: "I wanted to see the lights and the tree and the people." -- for others, an institution.
 
"We moved out here in 2004 and we come every year," Luke Rouns of Rapid Valley said. "It's kind of a tradition to come every year."
 
With almost a hundred different floats, there was something for everyone.
 
"I've actually liked the Native American drummers," said Bismarck's Allison Stoltz.

"Probably the Air Force and firefighters" topped the night, Custer woman Nicole Savery said. "They've done a lot for us and so it was neat to see."
 
"My favorite part?" repeated Christopher Mancha, in town from Texas to visit family. "It had to be the girls in bikinis."
 
But for some, the lights dim in comparison to the real reason for the season.
 
"We love coming out here and being with family," David Bauchspiess, a Rapid City native who now lives in Sioux Falls, said with his son, Ethan, in his arms.
 
"Just being with my family and seeing all the floats and seeing how excited my [5-year-old] daughter gets" was the best part, Rouns said.
 
And she's far from the only one lighting up with excitement.
 
"I wish that Bismarck had something like it," said Stoltz.
 
"I'm definitely going to bug them to fly me up here more often," added Mancha.

Parade-watchers were also glad this year was a touch warmer than in past years. It did get a little chilly toward the end, but most people stayed for the whole thing.

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Rapid City, SD 57701

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