By Jeff Vorva
There were reasons Saturday’s inaugural Santa’s Parade thru Olde Palos could have been a bust.
First, it was put together in just two weeks. The usual staple of parades such as bands, fancy floats and drill teams were not available on short notice.
Second, there wasn’t enough time to let many people know about it.
Third, who knew how good or bad the weather was going to be?
But organizers Heather Begley and Sharon Courtney didn’t care. If it was a small parade through Palos Heights that could make a few kids – and adults – happy, that was all that mattered during a year in which the pandemic and event cancellations have taken center stage.
It turned out to exceed expectations. Thanks to an assist from Mayor Bob Straz, the Palos Heights Recreation department and social media, the parade had more than 30 cars and the route had close to 1,000 people watching including spectators who came from neighboring towns on a 40-degree day that saw the sun make an occasional appearance.
“It was amazing, it was fantastic,” Begley said. “It was fun seeing all of the smiling faces of people who came out on a nice day.”
Fire engines, police cars and people throwing out candy were on hand and toward the end of the show was a float with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the Grinch.
Heather Hernandez, of Worth, brought her toddler, Dahlia, to the event.
“Santa brought us out,” Heather said. “This is a great opportunity. She wouldn’t get to see Santa otherwise.”
Colleen Casey, of Palos Hills, was a spectator who was impressed with the size of the parade.
“They did an awesome job and I wish other towns would have done this,” she said. “This took a lot of cooperation from a lot of people to put this together. I thought it was just going to be Santa and a car. This was really nice.”
Straz said this could be the start of a tradition in the city.
Sometime the best plans come together by accident and swiftly.
“In all honesty, the most important message is that this went beyond Sharon and me,” Begley said. “It took a lot of community support. It all started because of something we saw on Facebook. After such a hard year, the community was ready for something like this and it came together.”