Christmas in the Valley can be tons of fun. I recently had the pleasure of covering Youngstown's annual holiday parade, and being someone who isn't big on parades, I was surprised at how much fun it turned out to be.
Having spent the majority of my youth in Virginia Beach, my first winter here was breathtaking. It doesn't snow a lot where I'm from, so when it does, it's a big deal.
After living through the first winter, I quickly realized why many Ohioans hate snow. It's a pain to drive in. It's cold. It's wet. It's a mess. However, the first snowfall has a quiet beauty that quickly reminds you that the holidays are near.
Although snow was ruled out, as temps were in the 60s last week, the Yuletide spirit was still present in the air as people lined up along the streets of downtown to experience the parade.
A man was even roasting chestnuts on an open fire. This is the first year that I've ever smelled a roasted chestnut, let alone eaten one - and now I can say that I've partaken of the Christmasy nut, thanks to Newton Falls resident Scott Rentz. He has been cooking chestnuts in that fashion for 22 years, and said he enjoys providing the delicacy to those who haven't had the opportunity to taste it.
Thank you, Scott Rentz, and also thanks to Youngstown CityScape for purchasing the nuts.
The parade was magnificent; I especially enjoyed the Chinese dragon operated by at least 10 people weaving its way through the street as the crowd cheered.
It's fun to dodge candy as it's being thrown in your general direction; it's even more fun to catch it. There was so much candy that kids couldn't pick it up fast enough, and many older kids took the time to pick up candy and hand it to the little ones.
After the parade, kids could get their pictures taken with Santa Claus for free - a nice touch.
There were indoor activities going on all afternoon at 20 West Federal Place that made me wish I was still a kid, or at least that I could get away with posing as a kid. (I sometimes get carded for lottery tickets, but that's as far as it gets.)
I wanted to ride the small train that made a circle around a Christmas tree in the midst of the holiday shoppers making their rounds to various vendors and stores I never knew existed.
I wanted to make a snowman pencil or bracelet out of duct tape at the SMARTS program's holiday-themed art activity station.
I wanted to go buy gifts at Youngstown CityScape's gift center where children could buy gifts for family members. It reminded me of the Santa's Workshop I patronized as a child, and who can beat prices starting at a quarter?
Even though I'm not a kid anymore and don't have children of my own (yet), the Youngstown parade was a fun time for all.
I am now officially in the Christmas spirit. Let's get the holidays on.
What gets you in the Christmas spirit? Tell me at email@example.com or spread the cheer by commenting on this story at tribtoday.com.