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Tarentum-Brackenridge, Oakmont-Verona parades kick off holiday season in Alle-Kiski Valley

| Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
The Grinch rides atop a float as he waves to the crowd during the Christmas parade at the 2012 Oakmont Hometown Christmas festival along Allegheny River Boulevard in Oakmont on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Members of the Highlands Girl Scout Service Troop No. 55137 wave to the crowd from atop their float during the Tarentum-Brackenridge holiday parade in Tarentum on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Bill Shirley | For the Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Cailyn Heilman, 5, of Leechburg sits on a Fifth Avenue curb in Tarentum watching the Tarentum-Brackenridge holiday parade and cheering for the Steel City Angels, a Pittsburgh-area dance company, on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Bill Shirley | For the Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Shading their eyes from the sun, Noah Hunsaker, 6, and his sister, Lexi, 3 of New New Kensington wave to Santa during the Tarentum-Brackenridge holiday parade in Tarentum on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Bill Shirley | For the Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
The unicycling elf, Kevin Larkin, entertains the crowd during the Christmas parade at the 2012 Oakmont Hometown Christmas festival along Allegheny River Boulevard in Oakmont on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

An 18-foot tall inflatable Statue of Liberty and the Oscar Mayer wiener mobile drew cheers from the spectator-lined streets of Tarentum and Brackenridge for the towns' joint Christmas parade Saturday.

And it was the procession of fire trucks and floats with a cast of Christmas characters that kept spectators glued to the curb for the Hometown Christmas Parade in Oakmont and Verona later in the day.

Although it didn't feel like Christmas with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-fifties, crowds jammed the sidewalks for the classic Americana holiday tradition in all four towns, where the cacophony of laughing children competed with fire engines blowing their horns.

Convertible cars drivers in the parades could comfortably put down the top.

Girl Scouts and Brownies by the truck load cruised through offering the most sprightly of costumes from elves to scarecrows to snowflakes.

It was unclear if the children had more fun throwing candy from their floats in the parades or those in the crowd catching the sweet morsels.

Local and nearby high school bands, marching troops and color guards, waving red and green flags, strutted down the streets while professional dance school pupils sauntered to the beat of Bruce Springsteen singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in Tarentum.

The number of Santa hats and foam reindeer antlers were uncountable.

Public officials and celebrities marched in the parades with state Rep. Frank Dermody making both events; Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County executive was in Tarentum and Brackenridge; and Ian Petrella, who plays Randy in the “A Christmas Story” was in Oakmont.

A number of businesses commandeered their own float including Hair by Jeanne, Inc. of Oakmont that featured a beautician with scissors in hand working on the green locks of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Both parades offered a mix of emergency vehicles, veterans and marching bands.

Darlene Artman, 57, a life-long resident of Tarentum, has been attending holiday parades as long as she can remember.

“I just love hearing the noise, watching Santa Claus and the kids having fun,” she said.

“Too bad Tarentum isn't booming like this every day,” she added.

Organizers of the Tarentum and Brackenridge parade, sponsored by the recreation boards of both towns, estimate that residents numbering in the thousands turned out for the parade that lasted 45 minutes, winding through Fifth Avenue and Corbett Street in Tarentum to Morgan Street in Brackenridge.

“We got a lot of good comments,” said Barbara Magnetta, president of the Tarentum Recreation Board.

“It's just something to see this community survive and come together like we used to in the years gone by,” she said.

Oakmont officials estimate that between 5,000-7,000 people lined the parade route along Allegheny River Boulevard from Oakmont to Verona, according to Ray Rogers Jr., president of the Oakmont Chamber of Commerce, assistant chief for Oakmont Volunteer Fire Department and parade coordinator.

It was a banner year with 10 floats in the Oakmont parade.

“It's the perfect weather and all the festivities, like the live music and food, attracts all of the people,” he said.

“The little kids love seeing Santa and older kids like seeing the fire engines.”

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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