McALLEN — It’s not going to rain on this parade.
With that simple statement an announcer at the McAllen Holiday Parade described the sentiment Saturday evening as many looked toward the clouds at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium after a day of rain drenched much of the area, afraid that showers would halt the event.
But somehow the parade site at the stadium was spared, at least for a short while, and a procession was held.
Crowds of thousands — many in sweaters, ponchos and umbrellas — filled the stadium seats as they eagerly awaited the commencement of the parade.
Although the sky looked cloudy and gray, spectators didn’t lose their festive spirits.
Among the crowd of smiling faces were Isabel Rodriguez and her family who were determined to see this year’s parade.
“We’ve planned to come by prior years but there was always something that came up and we wouldn’t make it,” Rodriguez said, adding that this year they came ready. “We brought our umbrellas and our ponchos; we were prepared for it.”
The children in the crowd waved with excitement as one by one the floats passed by, leaving smiles on excited parade-goers’ faces.
The parade featured colorful and whimsical floats, many of which were outer space themed. In fact, McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos stood in a Star Wars-inspired float that displayed the Millennium Falcon.
Buzz Lightyear also made an appearance as a glittery float featuring the “Toy Story” character passed by.
As the parade continued one could hear the excitement of the crowd as various movie-referenced floats made their way around the stadium.
“Minions!” shouted one awe-struck child.
Local high school marching bands and dancers from throughout the Rio Grande Valley also participated.
Mariela Areas of McAllen attended Saturday’s parade to see her kids perform with the Sharyland High School marching band.
As she waited for the band to pass by she gazed on in anticipation as she saw each float, adding that the Buzz Lightyear and angel inflatables were her favorites.
“It looks beautiful,” Areas said.
Monica Martinez of McAllen also attended the event to see their daughter, Julia Martinez, a member of the McAllen High School Steppers, participate in this year’s parade.
She and her daughter attend the Holiday Parade every year, a tradition that she says kicks off Christmas festivities in their household.
She stared in adoration as her favorite float passed by — a giant, silver, glittery boombox.
“I love the Holiday Parade and the carnival,” a starry-eyed Martinez said.
The parade was hosted once again by Mario Lopez of “Saved by the Bell” fame and was expected to feature Telenovela stars as well as members of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and the team’s mascot, Rowdy, also attended and waved on from the Pena Eye Institute float as spectators cheered.
Then came the rain, which although did drench some parade participants and attendees it didn’t dampen the glee as Mighty Mouse, Santa Claus, and other beloved figures raised children to their feet in awe.
To see more, view Monitor photojournalist Joel Martinez’s full photo gallery here: