The prince and princess of the Belleair Holiday Parade are Teddy Schaffer, left, and Shelby Safee.
BELLEAIR – Belleair Mayor Gary Katica said he was worried that this year’s holiday parade would be poorly attended because the Bucs were on television at 4 p.m., just an hour before the start of the parade on Sunday, Dec. 2. He needn’t have worried; the parade route around the mall was shoulder to shoulder.
For the second year in a row the town organized the parade, which began last year after previous attempts to have a holiday gathering of some sort failed. Last year the parade was an instant hit. Obviously there is nothing like having Santa Claus to draw a crowd of youngsters and with them their parents.
Belleair resident Cary Perez Waulk was there with her daughter-in-law and granddaughter who live in Belleair Bluffs.
“I love this and it is so wonderful to see so many people come out and meet their neighbors,” said Perez Waulk. “There are so many people all bringing their children, I’m so glad my city does this.”
Her daughter-in-law, Christy Waulk agreed. “This is wonderful, the parade is beautiful,” she said. “We will absolutely come back next year.”
Her daughter Karis, still in Grandma’s arms, didn’t have much to say but her Grandma spoke for her; “She wants more candy.”
Just as the parade got under way organizer Sara Borger, the town’s special events co-coordinator, made her way across the street to Hunter Park carrying piping-hot lasagna.
“I baked it at home,” she said.
That lasagna and several others were on the menu for the after-party.
Excited about the event was Angel Kytle and her sons Blake and Dustin. Kytle, from nearby Harbor Bluffs said it was important for her to be there.
“I’m the head of St. Paul’s school,” she said. “Many of the children who go to the school are participating in this parade so we’re here to cheer them on.”
Once the parade had made its way around the Mall, Santa, who had been driven around in a Largo Fire truck, got out and took up residence in the Gazebo in Hunter Park. That allowed the children to sit on Santa’s knee, whisper the secret Christmas list and have pictures taken.
While that was happening everyone else lined up for hamburgers, hot dogs and that lasagna. Sitting nearby was Mayor Katica, just finishing a hot dog.
He looked around at the crowd of several hundred people and said, “What a town ... what a town.”
Then, relating to his earlier comment said, “I guess Santa trumps the Bucs.”