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Lighting up the streets of Pine Plains

PINE PLAINS — The 26th annual Pine Plains Parade of Lights was celebrated on Saturday, Nov. 26, by hundreds of people who watched a parade of more than 60 floats.Earlier in the day, a large group of volunteers decked the evergreen trees along Main Street and Church Street with red bows, silver pine cones and strings of lights. Some people added extra decorative ornaments to their trees.Classic holiday tunes trumpeted from the balcony of the Stissing House. Many of the decorators — some of whom were dressed in Santa hats ­— sang along while they spruced up the trees.“It’s a blast,” said Rich Hardy, one of the decorators, who comes with his extended family every year to help out.In the center of town, Santa and Mrs. Claus visited with the local children while their ever-helpful elves handed out gifts and candy canes. Parents sipped on hot chocolate handed out under a warming tent.Nearby, the Cub Scouts sold holiday wreaths, and down the street, the Pine Plains Free Library hosted a free ornament-making workshop.As dusk grew closer, the crowds grew larger. Many of the attendants said that they were encouraged to come to the parade to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, which had some forgoing their coats.“It’s great to see everybody come out and enjoy it,” said Carl Baden, who helped organize the event.He said that the Pine Plains Business Association, which hosts the day’s activities, chose the weekend after Thanksgiving because families are already together, which creates the perfect opportunity for a family-friendly event to kick off the start of the winter holiday season.Pine Plains Business Association President and Parade of Lights organizer Ibis Guzman said that the day represents the community’s strength and ability to pull together to make things happen.Asked what attracts him to the event and makes him come back to put it on year after year, he pointed to the people lining the streets, greeting old friends and family members with hugs and huge smiles, and said, “This. The crowd. The amount of people that come out to support the event. That’s what this is: support. Support for the community, support for the businesses.... This event comes together solely from the help and donations of the community.”He said that he was thankful for the volunteers who donated their time to make the town look beautiful for the parade and the holiday season, but he was also very thankful for the financial donations that make the event possible.Once darkness had fallen, the firetrucks sounded their sirens and flashed their lights to signal the start of the parade.The crowd cheered, clapped and whistled as the procession made its way through town.The firetrucks and ambulances were joined by classic cars, tractors, motorcycles, military jeeps, boats and a motorized toy car. Most of the vehicles were brazenly embellished with hundreds of lights. Even a pack of ponies was draped in colorful strings of light.

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