By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
FORT GIBSON — For her first parade ever, 5-year-old Nicole Doak saw plenty of action Monday night.
Nicole waved, cheered and said “Hi, Horsie” as a horse-drawn carriage opened Fort Gibson’s 26th annual Starlight Parade. She shrieked at the blare of big trucks. She dashed after candy thrown from floats or handed out by parade walkers.
People lined Lee and Poplar streets to watch the evening parade. Parade judges named Fort Gibson High School’s Royal Regiment band as the best nonprofit entry and OG&E the best for-profit entry.
Nicole stayed through the parade’s end and even got to wave to Santa Claus. She said seeing Santa was her favorite part of the evening. Her second favorite was getting the candy.
Nicole’s mother, Brenda Doak of Muskogee, said the girl had never seen a parade before.
“She’s never even seen one on TV,” Doak said.
The twilight parade drew many “veteran” parade watchers.
Emma McKinley, 6, watched the parade next to the Doaks. She said she had been in other parades.
“She rode on the soccer club float,” said Emma’s father, Rick McKinley.
Emma said she likes being in a parade more than watching one.
The Wilson family of Fort Gibson knows just where to sit at the parade — and how early to get there.
Tana Wilson and her family perched on bleachers at the corner of Lee and Poplar.
“We always sit right here,” Wilson said. “We can see the parade right when it comes up Lee Street. It stops here for a while, then it turns.”
She said her family takes their places on the bleachers about an hour before the parade starts.
“It fills up fast,” she said.
Wilson said the family has come to the parade for four or five years. They have seen all kinds of weather.
“Last year’s was really nice,” she said. “Three years ago it was so cold.”
She said the family walked alongside a Boom A Rang Diner float that year.
“It was freezing to death,” she said.
Fort Gibson High School graduate Jordan Pollard gets excited at parades.
“My favorite part is seeing all the floats and things and seeing the tree light up,” Pollard said.
The parade opened with the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.