Early in the morning of Nov. 23, 2018, the day after Thanksgiving, 52 groups and participants for the 28th annual Reston Holiday Parade gathered at the top of Market Street in Reston. A lineup of dignitaries, performers and balloon handlers prepared to bring a bit of holiday fun to a time-honored event in preparation for honored guests Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Workers inflated behemoth Macy's style balloons. Handlers dressed in colorful outfits that coordinated with their balloons, wrangled knotted ropes, freeing the lines and boosting the balloons afloat.
"I'm a little nervous," confessed Nicki Skinner of Herndon. "It's a big balloon." Members of the Spirit of Reston-South Lakes High School Marching Band rehearsed one last time directed by Catie George, 17, Drum Major.
Grand Marshal Sissy Sheridan, 14, of Reston, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11), Del. Ken Plum (D- 36), Supervisor Catherine Hudgins, (D-Hunter Mill) joined by Lord and Lady Fairfax, Ron Copeland and Carmen Powell and Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid climbed into their rides, ready to make their way down Market Street in Reston Town Center. Along the parade route, local volunteers dressed in red aprons such as Lisa Roy and her daughter Francesca and Catherine Lamoureux and her daughter Aiello Vivienne pushed grocery carts filled with jingle bell necklaces, passing them out to spectators.
PRECISELY at 11 a.m., emcees Angie Goff and Doug Kammerer of NBC News4 each stood at one of the two grandstand podiums erected along the half-mile parade route. In unison, they announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, get ready for the sights and sounds of the 28th annual Reston Holiday Parade because it is here."
The duo began a lively banter describing the parade participants. One of the first in the lineup was award-winning bagpiper Drew Donlon from Emerald Society Pipe Band followed by the Fairfax County Ceremonial Honor Guard. "The largest and most active police Honor Guard in the Commonwealth of Virginia," the emcees said.
Next, Goff and Kammerer welcomed the parade's Grand Marshal for 2018, Sissy Sheridan, born and raised in Reston. "Sissy Sheridan is fourteen years old and already a nationally-known stage and screen actress," boasted Goff and Kammerer. "She hosts the "DIY with Me" show on Nickelodeon; she's returning in "Maniac" on Netflix … and now she is appearing in "Billy Elliot" at Signature Theatre in Arlington."
Sheridan said, "I'm so excited to be Grand Marshal. It is such an honor. And I'm having so much fun."
During gaps in the parade, the emcees thanked Boston Properties for bringing the holiday tradition to Reston Town Center and reminded the crowd of additional fun. "We hope you... can stay for the day to enjoy visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Mini-Train Rides and ice skating at the beautiful Pavilion, plus shopping and eating ...The magical Tree Lighting is at six o'clock followed by the Sing-Along of traditional carols with The Reston Chorale."
The pair told spectators that the Reston Holiday Parade had been nominated for the third year in a row for "USA Today's" TEN BEST Holiday Parades. "Grab your phone and remember: Ten, TEN BEST dot COM; voting is open until Dec. 10. As of Monday, Nov. 26, Reston Holiday Parade 2018 ranked Number 5 out of the 20 nominees, ahead of Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade at #6 and Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with 50 million in attendance at #7.
"Cast your ballot once per day until voting ends on Monday, Dec. 10 at noon ET," states the website www.tenbest.com. The top 10 winning events, determined by your vote, will be announced on Friday, Dec. 21."
THE PARADE continued for an hour with emcees highlighting participants, performances and balloons. They informed spectators that continuing through December, there would be horse-drawn carriage rides on Saturday afternoons and mini-train rides on Sunday afternoons to benefit local charities as well as holiday performances at Fountain Square and The Promenade.
Culminating in the grand parade finale as always, the day's most special guests of honor, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived in a horse-drawn carriage. "Let's make some noise (jingle and applause) and welcome the jolly couple from the North Pole to Reston," called out the emcees.
"Ho, ho, ho, Santa and Mrs. Claus. Now that you're here, that means, 'Holidays Are Here' at Reston Town Center."
For more information about voting for the Best Holiday Parade in the USA, visit www.tenbest.com.