(Michigan City, IN) - Santa Claus broke with tradition and rode into Michigan City in the annual Snowflake parade on a sleigh.
There seemed to be no change in the large crowd along the route and beside the community tree basking in the spirit of the season. “We bared the cold. I’m so glad we did,” said lifelong Michigan City resident Nicole Leary, who came out with her husband, Nick, and their children Emerson, 3, and Aria, 5.
Taylor Purcell of Rolling Prairie said the atmosphere capped off by the tree lighting ceremony was like being in a storybook Hollywood film about the season.
The former Michigan City woman was with her husband, Michael, and their children ages 5, 8, and 13. Purcell has attended the parade ever since she was a child.
“I think it’s special, like when you’re watching your Christmas movies. It’s a little bit of happiness,” she said.
There were 29 units, including cartoon characters and horses, in the parade on Franklin St. from 9th St. to 4th St.
The parade ended in front of the Michigan City Public Library where hundreds of people, if not more, gathered for the tree lighting ceremony. Pleasure echoing from the crowd was evident when Mayor Duane Parry turned on the lights.
Seemingly forever, Santa Claus has been escorted into the city on top of a fire truck in the parade. The sleigh came about when Santa expressed a desire for change before Thanksgiving spoke to a friend, Amy Frederickson. Frederickson said she came up with the idea for the sleigh and found one for sale on Facebook marketplace.
She and her husband, Cory, brought it home after making an over two-hour drive to Woodstock, Illinois. The century-old sleigh needed some fixing up but Cory, working quickly, used his handyman skills to get it to Santa’s liking prior to the parade.
“We made this all happen in a week,” she said.
Santa on a sleigh seemed to be a hit judging from the reaction of the crowd. One man shouted several times in glee “you’re the best Santa!”
Katie Volkman made the trip from Chesterton with her son, Liam, 4, and her daughter, Leah, 12. The former Chicago resident attended the parade for the first time last year, only to come again because of how much they all enjoyed the festivities.
“The kids got a lot of candy. They liked seeing all the characters. It was just a good time,” she said.
They also went to Washington Park after the parade to see the Festival of Lights like how they had gone last year. There, a large section of the lakefront park is heavily decorated annually with lighted figures and twinkling bulbs strung in the trees. It was also the second time at the parade for Ryan and Emilia Siffermann and their five-year-old Michael, all lifelong residents of southern California until moving to Michigan City early in 2021.
Mrs. Siffermann said the parade, combined with the below 30-degree temperatures, had more of a traditional Christmas feeling to it than anything she experienced before during holidays in a much warmer climate.
“I like the change in seasons,” she said.
The parade was a first for Marissa Snyder and her children, Alex, 5, and Sophia, 3. Her family moved to Michigan City from Ohio last year.
“Enjoyable Very enjoyable. The kids are having a good time,” she said.