by Larry Austin
The first-ever Light Up the Boulevard Parade & Festival Saturday was popular beyond the expectations of event organizers, and so successful that the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce is promising more next year.
The parade, barely a quarter of a mile in length, drew a large crowd to the boulevard and more to the Town Hall for a post-parade festival.
"We came around the corner, we saw it was four or five deep with people," Chamber Vice President Jim Sharpe said of the parade crowd. "It's like the Fourth of July parade in November."
"For its first time happening, we could not be more ecstatic about the turnout, the reception that has been received from the community of Grand Island," Sharpe said. He gave all credit to chamber director Fran McMahon, chair of the event.
"The thing of it is, her inspiration, her drive, her passion for this, it made sense that the Chamber of Commerce climb on board and get behind her," Sharpe said.
McMahon said she envisioned the parade and festival last year.
"We want to enhance the businesses on the Island, and I just thought if we lit up the boulevard and have every business light up, it would attract people to them when they go by."
"Everyone on the Island is a small business and we want to keep them open and we want the Island to support our business," McMahon said.
"We see it only growing on Grand Island and being better and better," Sharpe said.
"It was a great length for how many participants we had. It was a perfect size for the first year, and next year? The whole boulevard," McMahon said. "Just like the Fourth of July."
Light Up the Boulevard Electric Light Parade & Festival awards
Grand Island Chamber of Commerce; Grand Island Limousine Company; Hizair Hair Salon; Citizen Bank; Joe Dentz Paintless Dent Removal; Liz Wilbert; St. Stephen School; Allan Prame; deSignet Jewelry; Howard M. Sexton Electric; Wheelfind Automotive Repair; Chocolate House; Mallwitz's Island Lanes; Grand Island Fire Department Ladder Truck
Girl Scouts Troop 30448; Cub Scouts Pack 630
Islettes' Elite Majorettes
McCarthy School of Irish Dance; Grand Island Dance; Step-in-Time Dance
Best Marching/Dance Group: Step-in-Time Dance wins first place and a pizza party donated by Just Pizza.
Best Car/Float: Howard M. Sexton Electric wins first place and a set of four Grand Island Glasses donated by the Chamber of Commerce. Honorable mention goes to Hizair Hair Salon and Wheelfind Automotive Repair.
Best Decorated Storefront: Cataract Customhouse Brokerage Inc. wins first place and a certificate worth $90 toward a chamber membership donated by the Chamber of Commerce. Honorable mention goes to Marston Power Equipment and John's Pizza.