Thousands of North Texans got a jumpstart on the holiday season Sunday night at the GM Financial Parade of Lights in downtown Fort Worth.

The theme of this year’s parade was ‘Making Spirits Bright.’

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“We’ve come every year for the last 11 years that we’ve lived here,” said Stacy Rehm, who lives in Fort Worth.

There were more than 100 floats in the parade, decorated with over half a million sparkling lights, making it the largest illuminated holiday procession in the entire state.

Lifelong activist and Fort Worth native 95-year-old Opal Lee served as the grand marshal.

“I’m just glad I’m able to be here with my family,” said Fort Worth resident Lakedra Swain.

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Last year, the 39th annual Parade of Lights took place inside the Fort Worth Convention Center with only a virtual audience because of COVID-19. Families were grateful to be able to experience the festivities in-person this year.

“We weren’t sure, and we’re so glad there’s such a great crowd,” said Matthew Trugillo, who’s visiting family in Grand Prairie. “Everyone’s out with their families. It’s really exciting.”

In addition to the floats, there were marching bands, antique cars, carolers, and horse-drawn carriages.

With just five weeks until Christmas, spectators young and old were most excited to see Big Man himself.

“There’s definitely always room for Santa,” said 11-year-old Elle Maul from Carrollton. “You’ve got to keep the Christmas magic.”

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Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus were on the grand finale float of the parade.

Caroline Vandergriff