2,000 line streets for Greensburg holiday parade
Seven-year-old Williesha Rozierlek of Greensburg sat bundled up in her winter coat and wrapped in a blanket and sleeping bag Saturday afternoon on South Main Street in Greensburg, smiling as the floats, bands, marching units, bagpipes and homecoming queens in the Greensburg Holiday Parade passed in front of her.
Rozierlek was among a crowd estimated by Greensburg police at more than 2,000 people who braved temperatures in the low 20s and gusting winds to watch 100-plus units in the annual parade to kick off the holiday season.
The parade lasted more than 100 minutes, putting to the test the spectators' abilities to keep warm while sitting, standing or reaching for the candy thrown by those in the parade.
"I asked her three times if she wanted to go because it was so cold," said Charlene Rozierlek, Williesha's mother. "She did not want to miss it. She's my princess."
Some of those watching the parade sought refuge in Vaccare's Rexall Pharmacy on North Main Street, where the American Cancer Society was offering free hot chocolate for a donation.
The parade crowd did not seem as large as in past years, probably because of the cold weather, said Phyllis Cooper of Greensburg, a member of the cancer society's fundraising team.
"You could see that some of the people took off 15 minutes before Santa arrived," she said.
At the southern end of the parade route, the First Evangelical Lutheran Church on South Main Street also was offering free hot chocolate.
"We went through quite a lot of hot chocolate," said Amy Endman, a member of the church's evangelical committee.
"We plan to do it every year," said the Rev. Douglas Heagy, church pastor.
About 200 people availed themselves of the church's generosity.
Sitting in front of the church, Doris and Alex Ustazewski Sr. of Herminie were doing their best to keep warm under two blankets while watching their granddaughter, Ashley Ustazewski, march in the parade with her Brownie Girl Scout unit.
The parade even featured a live Nativity scene with Charlotte Wright of Hempfield portraying Mary, mother of Jesus, and riding a donkey guided by a man portraying Joseph.
As usual, the long parade was capped by the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus, riding in a carriage drawn by two Belgian draft horses each weighing about 2,500 pounds.