The Festival of Lights Parade, which draws thousands to town every year, went off without a hitch Saturday night.
Well, maybe one small hitch, but it was well worth it to City Councilman Pat Herrington, sitting in for the mayor that night, and his wife, Kristie.
Soon after the parade began, it stalled for a few minutes, much to the surprise to many along the parade route.
But there was more a of a surprise for the Herringtons, who were riding among the lead cars. They were stopped and reunited with son, Steven, who they hadn’t seen since he left for Army Airborne training in Georgia in the springtime.
With help from just about everybody involved, Steven had pulled off quite the surprise for Pat and Kristie, who had spent the previous few days dealing with her father’s recent death.
“It was all pre-arranged, I guess,” said Pat Herrington afterward. “We were working on a funeral and burial and all that. It was kind of a therapeutic night for us to get away from all we’ve been dealing with. It was nice. It was one of those complete reunion things like you see on TV all the time. It was like Christmas early.”
Herrington said a lot of people were in on the planning, but he and his wife were taken by complete surprise.
“Kristie and I were, like, the only two people on the planet that didn’t know this was going to happen,” he said.
Once the reunion was complete, the parade got moving again, lasting about an hour as it made its way to Fleet Park. It was complete with marching bands, howling hounds, festive floats and big rigs festooned with thousands of Christmas lights.
One of the most impressive displays was created by the Montesano Fire Department, which adorned its ladder truck with more than 12,000 lights and coordinated them to Christmas music.
“It took us about a week and I’d say eight to 10 people,” said Fire Chief Corey Rux. “We really enjoy the Festival of Lights. It’s the a biggest day of the year for Montesano with an influx of about 10,000 people. It’s something we take pride in.”
Rux said the ladder truck was not out of commission during the decorating process, but would only be used as a last resort.
“Had we absolutely needed it, it would have gone on scene with all the decorations,” Rux said, while noting that was not the case this year.
For its efforts, the Fire Department garnered this year’s Mayor’s Choice award for the annual parade.
Other Festival of Lights Parade winners were:
Festival Sweepstakes Award (overall best entry) — Gray Harbor PUD/IBEW 77
Commissioner’s Trophy (best float) — Grays Harbor Democrats
Best of Theme Award (Candyland) — LeMay’s
It’s A Small, Small World Award (best children’s entry) — Wishkah Elementary School Band
Dr. Donald H. Mustard Award (best humane use of animals) — Olympia Tree Hound Association
Professor Harold Hill Award (best band in parade — not Monte) — Elma High School Band
Margaret Downey Recipient Choice Award — Montesano High School Band
Chamber of Commerce Award — Loggers Playday
Grand Marshal Award — Montesano Co-Op Preschool
In the residential and commercial decorating contests, this year’s winners are:
Griswold Award: Ron Bennett — 997 Stephenson Drive
Best Depiction of Theme: Travis and Kary Haring — 419 N. Academy St.
Best Overall: Lisa Cornwell — 813 McBryde Ave.
Griswold Award: City of Montesano Fleet Park
Best Depiction of Theme: Price and Price Realty
Best Overall: Sterling Savings Bank