Though there were nearly two weeks to go until Christmas Day, Santa came early to Lisbon on Saturday – atop a horse, rather than in his traditional reindeer-led sleigh.
The jolly man in red and his wife, Mrs. Claus, were just two of the holiday characters to make an appearance at the town's fourth annual Ole Fashion Christmas Horse Parade, held Dec. 13. Also present were several ghosts of Christmas past and future, Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim, a frazzled mother on Christmas morning and the cast of a "half ass" Christmas Story, with costumes from the classic movie and a banner carried by a small donkey announcing the theme.
Hundreds lined the small town's "Main Street" for the parade. Locals and visitors lined up along the road on lawn chairs and blankets; some sat in the back of pick-up trucks and others stayed inside their cars for warmth on the crisp, though sunny, day.
Waiting for the horses to arrive with her husband and 4-year-old daughter, Grace, Kathy Heist of Turf Valley said the parade, which has quickly become a tradition for the western Howard County community, was a "great community event.
"It reminds you that love should be the priority, not presents," Heist said. For her part, Grace, dressed in a reindeer antler headband, is already a horse enthusiast, her mom said: "She loves horses, so when I saw this event, I immediately sent it to my husband and said we should go."
In all, some 450 horses, ponies, donkeys, mules and hounds walked in the parade, according to organizers. Participants included local horse clubs, police groups and individuals from around the state and Pennsylvania. County Executive Allan Kittleman also joined in, riding by spectators on a dark brown horse.
The event was kicked off by a choir of local elementary schoolers singing Christmas carols and a rendition of the National Anthem sung by Miranda Judd.
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As the first horses came into view along the parade route, announcer Chip Ridgely had a message for new parade-goers: "If this is your first time, to the parade, take it in. When we did this for the first time four years ago, it was a shock."