Kanab celebrated its largest Christmas Light Parade and Festival yet on Saturday, November 28! The chilly temperatures and early evening snow didn’t discourage participants from coming out to enjoy the light parade and the new magical lantern launch.

This year there were 30 full entries of decked-out floats donning bright lights and decorations to celebrate the “Cowboy Christmas” theme. “This was the largest Light Parade that we’ve had. All of the entries were nice, well-done floats,” said Matt Brown, Light Parade and Festival Committee member. “We really appreciate all of the businesses and families who did a float and made the parade so much fun for the community!”

The following awards were given out to honor a few of the entries:

• Ultimate Award (crowd favorite): Clark Electric

• Griswald Award (most over-the-top light display): Kanab City

• Charlie Brown Award: Kane County Eye Care

• Most Original Award: Star Wars Troop

•John Wayne Award (the best use of the “Cowboy Christmas” theme): U.S. Forest Service.

Following the parade, the crowd gathered in the intersection of Main and Center Streets to see the “K” lit up by the Kanab High School Student Council to brighten the holidays and usher in the “K-town” Christmas. While the “K” was glowing, Hal Hamblin recited the Cowboy Christmas Prayer poem.

The crowd then filled the Main Street Plaza and enjoyed free donuts and hot cocoa provided by the Chamber of Commerce, and a free S’mores School sponsored by Chef Shon Foster of Sego Restaurant and Kanab City.

“We had so many more guests than we anticipated this year and we ran out of everything. We were so impressed and pleased with the large crowd and will be better prepared next year,” said Vicki Hooper, Director of Kane County Events and Volunteer Center.

During the street festival, Santa visited the kids. Darth Vader and several Star Wars characters from the parade stuck around to help raise food donations for the Kanab Care and Share and the Fredonia Food Banks. Folks were able to get a photo with the Star Wars characters when they brought a non-perishable food item.

To finish off the evening in a special way, there was a Wishing Lantern Launch to raise money for the Kane County Sub for Santa program, which provides Christmas gifts to the kids of families who need a little extra help this year. All 350 lanterns were sold and sent heavenward with messages of gratitude, wishes or love to a friend or family member who has passed. “We wanted this to be a very special and personal experience for everyone, and at the same time, raise money for a good cause,” said Camille Johnson, of the Kane County Office of Tourism.

The Wishing Lantern Launch fundraiser brought in over $3,500 in lantern sales and donations from the Kanab Chamber of Commerce and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. “This was our first year, so we had no idea how many folks would come out in support of this, so we ran out of lanterns. We are so excited to be able to do this again next year with even more lanterns for more folks to enjoy this wonderful experience,” said Hooper.

The Lantern Launch was a success in raising money for the Sub for Santa program and was a success as far as safety and litter as well. Classic Air Medical Chopper volunteered to hover above Kanab during the Lantern Launch and make sure all the lanterns landed safely without incident.

“We bought the best lanterns on the market for safety and for cleanup. We were confident things would go well, but having Classic Air Medical chopper in the air with eyes in the sky added tremendous comfort and confidence during the launch,” Johnson said.

A bounty was offered for any lanterns turned in to incentivize residents to help with a speedy cleanup, even though the lanterns are 100 percent biodegradable. Folks were given $1 per lantern, plus a few lanterns were launched with a special prize offering if turned in. Some of the prizes were additional cash and gift cards to Three Bears, 7-Eleven and Sego Restaurant.

Another way participants earned some prizes was through a picture contest on Facebook and Instagram. Anyone who tagged their photo with “#kanablightfest” was entered into the contest. Members of the Light Parade and Festival Committee voted on their top picks and selected two Facebook winners, two Instagram winners and one overall winner. The top winner was given a $50 gift card to Sego Restaurant. The two Facebook winners were given a $25 gift card to Honey’s Marketplace and the two Instagram winners were given a $25 gift card to Glazier’s Family Market.

The top winner of the photo contest was Cassie Heaton (photo above). The other four winners of the $25 gift cards were: Susan Johnston, Trina Decker, Joey Klein and Neal Brown.

To check out the entries, type in “#kanablightfest” in the search field of either Instagram or Facebook.

For those who may have missed the event, make sure and mark your calendars for next year. The event will be held annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.