It was a scene plucked from under a Christmas tree.
Big Bird, Elmo, a Raggedy Ann doll, the Cat in the Hat and other toys prepared for take-off on their lighted float Saturday evening in Goodview’s Holiday Lighted Parade. The parade, in its 11th year, featured more than 20 floats and drew in hundreds of spectators.
A large siren signaled the start of the parade, and groups rushed to get in place. Elmo and Big Bird put on their heads, the Cat in the Hat hopped inside the sleigh, and others climbed aboard as they prepared to light up the streets of Goodview.
The Toyland float carried seven of the parade’s committee members, as well as a giant sleigh and lighted Christmas trees with presents underneath.
The float may have been one of the largest in the parade, but the group spent only three hours building it the night before, members said. Cindy Westby, dressed as the Cat in the Hat, said building a float is easier now that the group has practiced putting it together.
Each year, the group of neighbors choose a different theme for their display. Previous years have included a country float, a Victorian Christmas and Santa’s workshop.
Westby organized Goodview’s first lighted parade more than a decade ago with a small group of neighbors. She modeled the event after the Minneapolis Holidazzle Parade.
“It’s something nobody else has done here in a really long time,” she said.
For first-time attendees Dale and Carla Kempen, the parade was a highlight of the holiday season.
“It’s very unique for Winona,” Carla Kempen said. “We’ll definitely be back again.”
The festivities that followed Saturday’s parade, including an auction, bake sale and music at the nearby Elks Lodge, raise money and food donations for the Winona Food Shelf in conjunction with the annual 10 Days of Giving.
“It all stays in Winona,” said committee member Joy Troke.