Holiday parade draws thousands to Huntington Village
Thousands of spectators clutching containers of hot coffee and cocoa lined Huntington village streets Saturday night, braving freezing temperatures to enjoy the fourth annual holiday parade.
Parents and children smiled and clapped as a fire truck transformed into Santa Claus' sleigh was led by a huge, brightly lit Rudolph.
The parade went down New York Avenue and Main Street, and featured about 40 floats, including one depicting the Island of Misfit Toys and another boasting a motorcycle-riding Snoopy.
Nonprofits, local businesses and 22 fire departments, "ranging from Oyster Bay to East Islip -- and pretty much all of the ones in-between" -- built floats exemplifying the "Holiday Toys" theme, said the event's founder, Lt. John Damico of the Huntington Manor Fire Department.
Santa and Mrs. Claus made parade appearances, as did The Grinch, Charlie Brown and Mickey Mouse.
Afterward, the village's holiday tree on Wall Street was lit.
"It's a really cool parade, with a lot of fire trucks -- the kids love it," said Lisa Chirco, 39, of Huntington. Like her children, she was heavily bundled against the cold -- four layers.
Local shops kicked off the festivities in the morning by offering special promotions, hoping to lure customers out of shopping malls in support of Small Business Saturday. Frost-fighting hot cocoa and cookies were free. Blankets brought by some onlookers helped, too.
So did the special gear worn by a few.
"They have their animal hats -- a wolf and a bear," said Lisa Torregrossa, 44, of Huntington, referring to her 8-year-old daughter and her best friend.
As for the pizza they also brought along, the mother said: "That'll keep them from getting grumpy."
A martini with a lemon twist -- followed by cappuccinos and cookies -- did the trick for Paul Donaldson, 48, of Lloyd Harbor, and his wife, Gina, 47, who caught the parade seated at a sidewalk table.
This year, John Rubcewich, a Huntington Manor firefighter, joined his wife, Sarah, and their 2-year-old son on the sidewalk instead of joining his colleagues on the "Polar Express" fire truck, as he did last year.
"I wanted to see what it looked like from the other side," he said.