BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Lighted floats and runners dressed in holiday garb drew big crowds to uptown Maumee last Saturday for the 15th annual Maumee Light Parade and Holiday Hustle 5K.
The evening kicked off with over 500 runners and walkers hitting the streets. Many dressed in Christmas attire for the special holiday race, which included a 5K run and 1.5-mile fun walk.
For a second consecutive year, Brady Stevens won the race with a time of 16:21. The Malone University sophomore is also on his college cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams.
Proceeds from the race benefit the Maumee Senior Center.
Lighted floats and illuminated walking groups also stepped off in the 15th annual light parade, which followed the race.
The event is presented by the Maumee Uptown Business Association and included 36 parade entries this year, which was up slightly over last year, according to event organizer JoAnna Nofzinger.
“It was a great night for the Holiday Light Parade,” she said. “The originality that was displayed with the floats was amazing and I want to thank everyone who participated in making this a great night to come out and get into the Christmas spirit.”
Maumee police, members of the Maumee Streets Division and several volunteers from the Maumee Chamber of Commerce were on hand to help the event run smoothly.
The Appliance Center sponsored this year’s parade, in which Maumee City Schools earned first place in the float contest for a school bus decorated like a Christmas present. The second-place award went to Guerrero Painting for an Alice in Wonderland-themed float and Metroparks Toledo was named the third-place winner. Cub Scout Pack 252 was named best walking group.
“It seemed like all of the floats and entries worked especially hard to be creative this year,” said Melissa Utterback of the Maumee Garden Club. She was one of many spectators on hand at this year’s parade.
“It’s always fun to see the many different styles of floats. I know it takes a lot of hard work to put them together,” she said.
Maumee Mayor Richard Carr said the event is a wonderful way for families to kick off the holiday season. With balmy temperatures that hovered in the 50-degree range throughout the day, the crowd seemed bigger than ever, he said.
“It’s a great weekend for the city,” Carr said. “The crowds looked eight to 10 people deep, with some areas completely filled, and everyone seemed to be having a really good time, with a lot of families and kids taking part in the festivities – that’s really what we want.”