Thousands of people flooded downtown Thursday night for the annual Tyler Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Tyler.
Families, many wrapped in blankets, lined the streets to watch the parade, standing or sitting on the curbs or in foldout chairs.
Over 130 groups and individuals from the community participated in this year’s parade with floats and displays of Christmas cheer.
Tyler resident Jerushah Dutoit, 33, who came with her husband and two children Bear, 5, and Lilly, 1, said she has been coming to the parade for the past four years.
“Just seeing the whole downtown lively and decorated is fun and I appreciate that it’s early enough that we can come with our young family,” she said.
Tyler native Fabiola Jacobo, 21, said she has attended the parade all of her life. The high school marching bands drew her to the parade, she said.
“They always have a good show,” she said.
New Tyler resident Peter Dutcher, 48, who came with his two boys Thomas and Ryan, 15, moved to Tyler six months ago.
“This is really great,” he said. “Nothing like where we came from. The friendly, festive atmosphere is really awesome.”
After the parade, families packed into T.B. Butler Fountain Plaza on the square for the tree lighting ceremony.
Mayor Martin Heines served as master of ceremonies and the crowd enjoyed performances by the East Texas Youth Orchestra, Clarkston Elementary Chorale and Tyler Junior College Apache Belles.
The 2018 Miracle Child Jack Bryans, 4, lit the 17-foot-wide, 28-foot-tall tree to cheers from the crowd. “Joyful Jack,” as many know him, lives with Leigh syndrome.
The Leland cypress Christmas tree is a donation from Scott Lyles and family with the Bright Star Farm of Alba.
It has 7,000 white lights thanks to the work of city of Tyler Parks and Recreation staff.
After the ceremony, dozens of children and families lined up for photos with Santa Claus.
The parade and tree lighting signify the beginning of the holiday season in the city.