The excitement of the season brought flocks of people to Jefferson Street for the annual Lighted Holiday Parade in downtown Burlington.

The stars of the parade were the dozens of lighted floats with the theme “Miracle on Jefferson Street,” but for the youngsters, candy and a special visitor from the North Pole, “Santa,” were the main attractions.

All three did not disappoint.

“I just like seeing the floats; they are cool,” said Natalyan Blakeman, 16, of West Burlington, who has attended every parade, all 16, with her grandmother, Linda Nelson of Sperry.

“They are excited to see Santa,” said Selena Tijerina of Fort Madison sitting with her son and her friend, Christina Haley and her daughters of Burlington, who added “and the candy, of course.”

The Ignite Dance Studio of Burlington bubbled their way down the street with machines held by the children that filtered the air with bubbles and provided a snow like texture.

There were fire trucks and K-9 dogs, a horse drawn carriage and square dancers on a float. There were lights, yes plenty of lights. Lights that flickered and flashed and glowed of all colors. It was a veritable Whoville of Burlington it was, indeed, with smiling faces that represented all facets of the city and region.

Those smiles brightened wider when the special guest, Santa Claus, appeared on his lighted sleigh pulled by lighted reindeer. And overheard in the crowd was the voice of children who said “Merry Christmas” to the jolly bearded man.

Many in the crowd followed Santa down to Memorial Auditorium for the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas Tree on the riverfront in Burlington.

The 25-foot locally grown tree from Myers Tree Farm was adorned with more than 5,000 lights provided by Standard of Beaverdale.

Casebine Credit Union provided free hot chocolate to warm the gathering as the cool temperatures filtered in and the Burlington High School Marching band entertained the gathering.

Then Santa Claus made his way to the tree and the waiting Mayor of Burlington, Jon Billups. The crowd counted down from 10 and Santa pushed the plunger to switch on the lights.

The crowd let out an awe and everyones heart, it seemed, swelled three times larger.

“Merry Christmas everybody, be good to everybody, be good to each other,” added Billups.