BENTON - The first annual Benton City Parade of Lights and Dickens’ festival set the stage for a wonderful family-oriented event on Saturday night.
Having steadily grown and expanded each year, this year's crowd was a record-breaker for the Dickens event.
The fun got underway at 4:30 p.m. with the lighting of the courthouse wreath followed by a musical performance by the Marshall County High School Choir on the courthouse stairwell.
The streets were filled with hundreds and hundreds of spectators as the parade of lights rolled through.
Parade organizer and Benton Main street member Britney Hargrove said there were an estimated 50 float entries, a tremendous increase from the typical number of floats entered.
Of the first-time event’s success, Hargrove said “The people of this county never cease to amaze me. I am so overwhelmed and grateful for the participation and turnout we had fort his event - I can’t wait to start planning for an even bigger and better 2013 celebration.”
Even the parade route had to be extended to accommodate all of the illuminated float entries.
Following the parade, an illuminated Dickens’ Alley opened, featuring annual favorites such as fresh popped popcorn, homemade soup, the fresh Ye Old Pigg (featuring Jeff Edward’s most sought after smoked whole hog) homemade bread shop, hot cocoa at the Ye Old Pub and lots of sweet delicacies were abounding in the Sweet Shoppe.
Musical entertainment in the plaza filled the air with holiday tunes, while the live nativity captured the spirit of the season.
Train and horse drawn carriage rides were a big hit this year, as well…not to mention the shopping opportunities enjoy by those checking out the open businesses on the court square. The Benton Women’s Club hosted a fundraising chili supper while the Marshall County Republican Women offered free pictures and cookies with Santa. The new Café’ Chas served up hot cappuccino and gourmet coffees as temperatures dipped after nightfall.
Of the event’s continued growth and increasing successes, President of the Benton Main Street Program Josh Hendrickson said, “The amount of support and enthusiasm that the community showed was overwhelming to all of us with Benton Main Street. We hope everyone that attended enjoyed everything the festival had to offer.
“We look forward to the excitement from Dickens festival carrying over to the businesses among the square throughout the holiday shopping season. We also look forward to seeing the same amount of excitement generated by our spring and summer events that are already in the works.”
Parade float winners were: First Place - Briensburg Baptist, Second Place -Riverwoods Church and Third Place -N
To see more from the Dicken's Festival, click here Photo Gallery