Parade of Lights dazzles C-U community


Kylie Corral

Floats pass through Downtown Champaign for the Parade of Lights on Saturday.

By Kylie Corral, buzz Editor

The 22nd Parade of Lights took place in Downtown Champaign on Saturday. Families, locals and students gathered along the streets to watch the procession. The cold gradually grew through the night, as did the crowd, with people visiting nearby businesses for a warm drink and a break from the cold weather.

Lily Bennett, graduate student at Kingston University in the UK and a parade attendee, said that she didn’t know the parade was going to take place until she stumbled across the crowd.

“There’s lots of people here — looks like there’s lots of families and lots of children — and it’s an event that anyone can go to, which makes it nice,” Bennett said. “It’s a nice thing for the community.”

Bennett also added that while the holidays here are a bit different from the U.K., she had been enjoying the festivities so far.

“So far, it’s a lot colder here than it is for me back home in the U.K. There’s already been some snow, which makes it feel more Christmas-y,” Bennett said. “I just went to some distant relatives’ house for Thanksgiving, which I guess it’s kind of the start of Christmas here, and that was really nice. So, different to back home, but in a good way.”

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Emma Burgwal and Ashley Landis, locals to the Champaign-Urbana area, were also in attendance at the parade. They both said they have attended the event for the last couple of years together to celebrate the holiday season.

“We live downtown, so we just like to come down and see what’s up,” Burgwal said. “I think it’s a good kickoff to the holidays, (and) I like seeing all the small businesses participate. I feel like it’s good on Small (Business) Saturday, as it gets the word out.”

Landis agreed, adding that “a lot of people show up kind of early, in seats, and it’s cool on businesses, which is nice.”

Both said they were excited to see what floats would be in the parade for this year in representation of the C-U community.

“If you haven’t heard of certain businesses or certain places, the floats kind of bring attention to that, and a lot of people gather to spread the holiday cheer,” Burgwal added.

Becky Dye, an attendee who was fundraising for The Salvation Army, said she has been into the parade for four years now. She added that seeing someone fundraising for The Salvation Army is a kind of tradition in itself.

“I think people are used to seeing (The Salvation Army) out at Christmas. So it’s kind of a tradition that goes back a long way, and all kinds of people from all walks of life come to watch (the parade), and everybody enjoys it,” Dye said.

Jeffrey Brokish came to the parade representing Central Illinois Bakehouse by selling baked goods just off of the parade route. He said that while Central Illinois Bakehouse has been to the parade for several years, it was his first time visiting.

“(The parade) helps people refocus on our downtown area and all the businesses that we have down here kind of revitalizing our community spirit,” Brokish said.

He added that it felt nice to see normalcy after years of the pandemic.

“It’s great to see everyone out and about again. We’re happy that we’re getting past COVID, and we can really all go get out and mingle again together and celebrate the holiday,” Brokish said.


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