The Friendliest Small Town Parade
Published 10:39 am Monday, December 21, 2015
By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist
Over the past eight years I have photographed the Helena Christmas parade, often standing near the judges stand. This year, I chose to position myself at the intersection known as Five Points.
Families were arriving as early as 11 to reserve a spot for themselves, and it was soon apparent that the crowd would be one of the largest ever.
Here are siblings tucked together into a Radio Flyer wagon; there are parents with one stroller crowded with three very young ones.
Watching the crowd was as entertaining as the parade, and across the street, two families especially caught my attention. Young Kenley and Kelsey Marshall, wearing matching Christmas-themed outfits that seemed to reflect their own innate exuberance, were attending with their grandmother, Colette Rare.
Next to them, were Derek and Sonia Blumstein (garbed in their just-acquired ugly Christmas sweaters) and their children, Judah Kai and Madeleine. Over the course of the parade, I observed the friendly interactions of the two families, previously unknown to one another, and decided to introduce myself.
“We’ve lived in Helena for nine years and moved here from Washington, D.C.,” Sonia Blumstein shared. “After reading an article in the Helena City News about how the municipal workers clean their own City Hall bathrooms, we decided to buy a house here.
“We wanted to be a part of a community that is fiscally responsible and also puts an emphasis on community and family through experiences like the Christmas parade and Movies in the Park.
“Not only does the city work hard to organize opportunities for our family to share ‘moments’ together and create special memories, but the education system is exceptional. It’s worth the daily work commute!”
Traffic was crawling afterwards as I drove through Old Town. But it’s not a day to hurry. Passing all the floats coming back the other way, I see the Disney mermaid still on her float, waving sweetly into the sunset.
Those departing and driving are patient and extend courtesies to other drivers. Along Highway 261 are groups gathered and lingering in tailgate fashion.
The winning float created by moms and daughters of the Third Grade Youth League Cheerleaders proclaimed “Helena Police Are Our Super Heroes. We’d Have A Blue Christmas Without You.”
Thanks to the many volunteers who make this event happen each year!