Vermont’s largest Halloween parade kicks off in Rutland

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(Host) Encouraged by last night’s mild weather, thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Rutland for the 47th annual Halloween parade. It’s Vermont’s biggest parade and one of Rutland’s favorite local traditions.

VPR’s Nina Keck was there and filed this report.

(Sounds of the parade)

(Keck) People began to line the streets a little after five and by six-thirty last night, the parade route was packed.

(Drum sounds)

(Keck) Robin Nelson recently moved to Vermont and says a coworker told her the parade was one event she didn’t want to miss.

(Nelson) “She said that the only reason some people live in Rutland is for this parade. So I thought, oh my God, I need to come down and check this out. (She laughs)”

(Keck) Carol Ciejko of Poultney has been coming to the parade for years and loves that it’s at night.

(Ciejko) “It’s Halloween. (laughs) It’s got that atmosphere. And it’s so fun to see the kids walking around. You see more costumes on adults and kids. It’s like a parade of families.”

(Keck) It’s also a parade of politicians. Senator Jim Jeffords led the parade as Grand Marshall. Not far behind him were Governor Jim Douglas, Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie and Congressman Bernie Sanders. It seemed like every candidate running for any statewide or Rutland County office was also hand – waving and smiling. And while the politicians all earned polite applause, it was the candy, floats, costumes and marching bands that really got the crowd excited.

(Band plays Star Wars theme)

(Keck) Band members from the Rutland Town School – dressed as storm troupers – took the crowd back to a galaxy far far away.

Organizers say this year’s parade was the biggest yet with 89 floats and 9 marching bands. Local schools, boys scout troops, businesses and civic organizations all took part as well as 40 city employees who worked to make sure everything ran smoothly. Rutland City police Corporal Christine Gregorio has been working the parade for 27 years.

(Gregorio) “Actually it went very well – this was the first year we used this route.”

(Keck) The new route did cause a few traffic problems, she admits – but nothing major. A bigger challenge, she says, is lining up all the floats in the dark. Still, the most unpredictable headache, says Gregorio is the weather. This year they lucked out.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

(Parade Drumming).

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