WEIRTON - The city of Weirton welcomed the Christmas season Saturday with a variety of activities, including the annual Weirton Christmas Parade.
The annual parade, organized each year by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce, was dubbed "A Brighter Christmas" this year, with its night setting and special fireworks finish to cap off the day's festivities.
"It was a little cooler than last year, but the excitement was still there," Chamber President Brenda Mull said, noting the cooperation among the local business community, city officials and residents. "A lot of people worked together to make it happen."
WEIRTON CHRISTIAN CENTER FLOAT — The Weirton Christian Center had two floats participating in Saturday’s parade, with many of the center’s youth program participants waving to the crowd and singing. -- Craig Howell
This year's parade was sponsored by First Choice America Community Federal Credit Union, Weirton Medical Center, Tri-State Audiology and West Virginia Northern Community College.
The fireworks were sponsored by Hancock County Savings Bank, Cattrell Companies, MedExpress and Marsh Pipe and Supply.
Mull noted she would like to make the fireworks display, which began once the parade concluded, an annual attraction to the Christmas festivities.
In addition to the parade, several events were held throughout downtown Weirton Saturday afternoon, including the opportunity to have pictures taken with Santa Claus and a charity collection to benefit three local organizations.
The charity drive was organized by Nick Latousakis of Wine and Beverage Merchants and John Greco of Greco-Hertnick Funeral Home in cooperation with the chamber.
Volunteers spent the afternoon in the funeral home parking lot collecting socks and gloves for the Weirton Christian Center, toys for the Salvation Army and food to benefit the Community Bread Basket.
A craft fair with 28 vendors was held at the Greater Weirton Senior Center and organized by the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Debbie Lawton, of Country Delights, who assisted the CVB in putting the show together, explained it was all in an effort to give residents something to do while waiting for the parade.
"We'll probably do this next year as well," Lawton said.
The attraction included tables of crafts, homemade salsa and jellies, candles, homemade dog treats and holiday items.
Meanwhile, across the street at the Millsop Community Center, residents could have a picture taken with Santa Claus, with a charge of $5 per picture. Proceeds will benefit the Weirton United Way.
"It's a great event. It's true community participation," United Way Executive Board President John Frankovitch said of the various activities. "We're just happy to play a role in it."
The community center also was the home for the annual Christmas Tree decoration contest, where residents could pay $1 to vote for their favorite tree. Proceeds from the contest will go to the community center's Legacy Trust Fund, which provides money toward future improvements to the center.
Also starting Saturday was the Christmas Village model train display, which will be available at the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center over the next few weeks.