Floats, festivities color Holiday Parade

McALLEN — An estimated hundreds of thousands of people attended this year’s McAllen Holiday Parade here at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday, joining past and present Dallas Cowboys football players and cheerleaders, international television personalities, the Budweiser Clydesdales and local high school marching bands.

Officials estimate that at least 200,000 people attended this year’s parade, which included a notable police presence in addition to several helicopters circling overhead.

“ We have our air operations as part of our overall plan,” said McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez, who referred to the heavy law enforcement presence as a part of the department’s routine operational planning at every holiday parade. “Obviously we have various objectives that we attempt to achieve for the security planning for this particular event.”

Chris Barreiro of McAllen attended the parade with his wife and three children. He said that this was his third time attending the parade, and it’s improved every year.

“ I think it’s great. The weather’s helping a lot,” Berreiro said. “It’s a long parade. There’s a lot of stuff. I like that they have different announcers for each side (of the stadium). They’re doing a great job of keeping everybody into the parade when there’s downtime.”

Alice Thorson traveled from Mercedes with her husband, Kenneth, to see the parade for their first time.

“ It was wonderful. This is our first year, and it was well worth the travel up here and trying to find a parking spot,” Alice said. “I liked all of it. I can’t pick out one thing.”

“ I’m partial to the Budweiser hitch,” Kenneth added. “I liked that.”

There were more than 50 floats and nearly 40 large balloons as part of the festivities, among them were Kermit the Frog, the Grinch and other classic holiday characters at the sixth annual parade.

There were also as many as 15 different agencies on hand to help with parade security, from the federal, state and local levels, according to Rodriguez, who called the event a success in terms of how relatively smooth it went compared to previous years.

“ … Right now the event is probably the most successful at this time,” Rodriguez said. “I’m rating that from the standpoint of the efficiency with which we got the parade through and the efficiency with which we were able to start moving people when we need them.”