Parade of Lights returns

Elly Green, Print Production Manager

Being in a smaller city like Newton, community events are happening all the time. These events include; The Sand Creek Summer Daze, Taste of Newton, The Newton Car Show, food truck rallies and many more. The Parade of Lights put on by the Newton Lions Club is just one of many attempts throughout the year to bring the Newton community together. 

The 2021 Parade of Lights was hosted on Dec. 2, during the night time when all of the glowing lights could be visible. Organizations such as the Newton High School band participated, marching proudly as they played a tune. 

“For the Parade of Lights we learn a piece of music starting in the first quarter of the school year and it’s a sequence of three tunes that are Christmas themed and we practice that here and there,” senior Savannah Hunsucker said. “We march at the parade, we wear uniforms but we [also] get to dress up and have lights and decorations so it’s pretty fun.”

In addition to the treat of music, community members enjoyed local businesses such as Prairy Market and Deli and Anderson’s Bookstore staying open late to serve shoppers as the parade lingered on. 

“In addition to the parade, we have photos with Santa for the kids, and many of the downtown businesses stay open late for shopping and to offer hot chocolate and cookies,” Newton Lions Club marketing and communications chair Erin McDaniel said.

The Parade of Lights makes an emphasis on the holidays approaching, with the twinkling lights and the Christmas music luring community members to join the parade and celebrate being together for the holidays. 

“The parade is such a feel-good, positive community event to kick off the holiday season,” McDaniel said. “In our awesome downtown, you really get that Hallmark movie, hometown Christmas vibe.”

The holidays mean something different to everyone, whether it be getting with the community to enjoy treats, reuniting with family members, or getting a break from work and school, and the Parade of Lights helps administer that feel-good holiday positivity. 

“The holidays are really important to me because it means I get to give back to my community and give back to my family and friends and it’s just a time to be together with all of the people that I care about and take some time to relax and focus on my mental health,” Hunsucker said.

The Newton Lions Club is dedicated to meet the community’s needs through service and philanthropy, including providing exams and eyeglasses to those in need, cleaning up trash along Sand Creek, providing a scholarship at the high school level, leading food drives and other charitable givings, said McDaniel. They also host major community events including the Parade of Lights. 

“Lions club hosts major community events like the downtown Halloween walk and the Parade of Lights,” McDaniel said. “Civic clubs like the Lions offer people a chance to be involved in community efforts to give back and serve their neighbors outside their usual social circles like work, school or church.”
While the Parade of Lights might be seen as a get-together for holiday enthusiasts, the parade and other community events hold deep ties into creating a bonded community, according to McDaniel.

“Events like the Christmas parade bring people from all walks of life together under one umbrella of community. It can help foster a sense of belonging that ultimately makes Newton a more appealing place to live and raise a family,” McDaniel said. “When you have long-standing events like this, it becomes a tradition, which also creates bonds between people.”