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New lights parade in Cairo, Ill. continues to grow

Published: Dec. 11, 2019 at 11:48 AM CST
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CAIRO, Ill. (KFVS) - A new holiday tradition is continuing to grow in Cairo, Illinois.

Traffic temporarily stopped on Washington Avenue on Friday night, December 6 so the small town could have its second annual Lights Parade downtown.

Families from Alexander and Pulaski counties lined the streets to grab candy and watch a couple dozen festive floats pass by.

Organizer Maria Watkins said the idea started as a way to recognize contestants of the Southern Illinois Sweetheart Pageant, but then it grew into something much bigger.

“It’s just the coming together, and just doing things together. Just celebrating each other having a good time,” Watkins said. “It’s something different that’s positive. Everybody else can have a lights parade why can’t we?"

Torey Purchase was crowned Little Mister Southern Illinois Sweetheart. The eight-year-old enjoyed tossing candy to the crowds during the parade.

“I just like to see everybody come together and have fun,” Purchase said. “It’s small but a lot of people are here. People think that nobody is in Cairo, but people see people helping out and everything.”

After the parade, people gathered to sing and dance to Christmas music and enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies which was donated by Bungie and the two banks in town.

Watkins said the plan is to continue the holiday lights parade next year, and she wants to find other ways for Cairo to celebrate together.

“I would really like to see things happen like this all year long," Watkins said. "Not just now, but all year long. Let’s keep this rolling.”

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