Bitter cold cancels Friday’s Parade of Lights

By Travis Gulbrandson

travis.gulbrandson@plaintalk.net

Subzero outdoor temperatures and a dangerous windchill forced planners of Vermillion’s annual Parade of Lights to cancel that event Friday, Dec. 6, but that didn’t stop Santa from having a jolly time listening to the Christmas wishes of local youth. Santa set up shop in front of the crackling, cozy fireplace in the Edith B. Siegrist Vermillion Public Library to visit with kids, including 4-year-old Ruth Needham, daughter of Sam and Michal Needham of Vermillion. (Photo by David Lias)

Subzero outdoor temperatures and a dangerous windchill forced planners of Vermillion’s annual Parade of Lights to cancel that event Friday, Dec. 6, but that didn’t stop Santa from having a jolly time listening to the Christmas wishes of local youth. Santa set up shop in front of the crackling, cozy fireplace in the Edith B. Siegrist Vermillion Public Library to visit with kids, including 4-year-old Ruth Needham, daughter of Sam and Michal Needham of Vermillion. (Photo by David Lias)

Last Friday was the date of the fifth annual Parade of Lights in Downtown Vermillion.

That is, it would have been if Mother Nature had cooperated.

Due to a National Weather Service prediction that set the temps at around 20 below zero, the parade was cancelled Thursday afternoon.

“We figured at that point we better call it,” said Steve Howe, executive director of the Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company (VCDC), the parade sponsor.

“It’s one thing for the adults and the businesses who are making the choice to do this, but we had the high school band that was going to play,” Howe said. “We just didn’t really want to expose the kids to that kind of wind chill. They may not feel that they had as much choice as one of the businesses.”

Howe added that he was unsure how low the temperatures got that night, “I do know that Friday evening was really quite cold. I don’t think anybody would have wanted to be out there, and certainly, bringing little kids out to see Santa light the tree would have bordered on irresponsible.”

This was the first time the VCDC was forced to cancel the Parade of Lights.

“We’ve always been very fortunate with the weather, and haven’t had any issues,” Howe said. “There’s been snow a couple of times, but actually, that just added to the ambiance. But we have not experienced this kind of cold this early in December in my recollection. Certainly not associated with this parade.”

The parade will not be rescheduled, Howe said.

“There are so few opportunities between now and Christmas, and now with other obligations on the calendar, we just didn’t think there was an appropriate time to reschedule,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re just calling it this year.”

However, the other events that were scheduled for Friday night and the next Saturday went on as scheduled.

Children and parents spent the evening at the Edith B. Siegrist Vermillion Public Library to making free ornaments to take home, and to decorate stockings for soldiers serving overseas as part of the Stockings for Soldiers program.

The following day, Dec. 7, area kids got to take pictures with Santa at the Vermillion Hy-Vee.

Howe said both events went well despite the still-cold temperatures.

“The library still had kids coming in, and there were still pictures with Santa the next day,” he said. “I don’t think it was as well-attended as they would have been if we had the full parade, particularly the Friday night event, but I do know that there were plenty of kids that did get over there and enjoyed making the crafts and seeing Santa.”

Although it’s still very cold in the Vermillion area, the 20-below temps seem to be gone – at least for now.

As of press time, Accuweather.com is predicting a high of 15 degrees Saturday, followed by a high of 2 degrees Sunday.

Next week should be a bit warmer, with temperatures predicted in the mid-20s for most of the week.

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