YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Christmas season is underway in downtown Youngstown, as the holiday parade and tree lighting took place Friday evening.
WKBN 27 First News Anchors Dave Sess and Stan Boney had live reports from the main stage and parade route.
Until the malls opened around 1970, downtown Youngstown was the hub of the area’s Christmas season and it all began with a parade the day after Thanksgiving.
In the mid 1960s, Strouss and McKelvey’s were the big department stores. When all the stores closed in the 80s and 90s, the parade stopped – only to be brought back several years ago.
A Youngstown police cruiser led the 2016 holiday parade into Central Square right on time at 6 p.m., followed by the East High ROTC program, Pete the Penguin and Ballet Western Reserve.
Eastern Gateway Community College, located downtown, was represented in the parade, along with most of Youngstown City Council and Mayor John McNally.
Students at Youngstown’s Choffin Career Center built a replica float of the old downtown McKelvey’s store. Youngstown State students had a Charlie Brown float.
WKBN reporters Julie Bercik and Gerry Ricciutti were among those walking along, passing out candy to the 2,500 people lining the parade route along Federal Street.
“Oh it’s nice, we’re having fun. They’re giving us candy like a little kid,” said Denise Jackman, of Wellsville.
Everyone was drawn to the Ghostbusters replica car, purchased recently by Ryan Sheridan, who owns Braking Point Recovery Center in Austintown.
“The car’s a 1969 Cadillac Hearse. It was owned by MGM. It was used in the movie ‘In the Heat of the Night’ as a hearse before they turned it into the Ghostbusters car,” he said.
The Wellsville High School band even made the trip from southern Columbiana County to perform.
The last person to roll into Central Square was Santa Clause – pulled not by reindeer, but two horses.
The evening ended with the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree.
Warren also hosted its Christmas on the Square Friday, with its own parade and tree lighting.