Throwback Thursday: Oglebay Festival of Lights and Christmas Parade

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One of the biggest events of the year in downtown Wheeling is about twenty-four hours away.

The Wheeling Christmas Parade is a tradition that spans three decades.

The year was 1985 and Oglebay Park was just about to host the first ever Festival of Lights.

Bill Bryson of UNIGLOBE Travel just returned from vacation with an interesting idea.

“We had just been to Disney and seen the Main Street Electrical Parade and I was so impressed with that I asked Dick Kennedy, the President of the Chamber at the time. Said it wouldn’t it be neat to have a parade of lights to tie in with what they are doing at Oglebay,” said Bryson.

Bryson got the green light for the project and that was the start of what would become a thirty year tradition in the Ohio Valley.

The parade brings thousands of people to town every year to kick off the holidays.

There is plenty to see with lighted floats, classic cars, marching bands, dancing schools, and even some celebrities.

Bryson said that over the years there have been some amazing moments with memories that last a lifetime.

“I remember some of the grand marshals that we have had. One of the most emotional was right after 9/11. We had the police and fire. The Ohio Valley just stood and cheered the whole way round for these guys and girls,” recalled Bryson.

There have been some moments, however, when things didn’t go quite as planned.

“We had a float get stuck in Stones Alley one time. The wheels got stuck between the curbs and that was an issue,” added Bryson.

This year’s parade promises to be just as spectacular, with nearly ninety entries from all over the tri-state area.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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