Christmas came to Kenai in a big way last weekend with the Kenai Chamber of Commerce hosting its biggest Christmas parade yet, as well as an expanded fireworks display to cap Friday night’s festivities.
Brittany Brown, executive director of the Kenai Chamber Commerce, said Tuesday said 12 floats participated in this year’s parade — the most parade participants in the event’s history. This parade traditionally draws fewer participants than Kenai’s Fourth of July parade, Brown said, but this year it was one of the only community events not canceled due to the pandemic, so people jumped at the opportunity.
“I think it turned out amazing,” Brown said. “Despite the circumstances with our economy and with the pandemic, I couldn’t have asked for a better event to take place. There were so many folks I got emails and calls from, and even in conversations during the event, people felt like it was the first time in a really long time that life was just a tad bit normal.”
The event took place entirely outside this year in order to limit the potential spread of COVID-19. Even though no hot chocolate could be given out, Odie’s donated individually wrapped cookies that were distributed by masked and gloved chamber employees. Brown said the weather was warm for the middle of winter, and it snowed just enough to give the kids a hill for sliding.
Three of the floats were chosen as parade winners by the chamber’s board of directors based on creativity and correlation to their business. This year’s winners were Denali Family Dentistry, Kenai Peninsula Driving Instruction and Stichel Racing.
After the parade had made its way down Frontage Road, a fireworks show was put on by the City of Kenai and local transportation company Weaver Brothers, Inc.
Brown said that the City of Kenai allocated a little bit extra for its fireworks budget this year in order to give the community something to celebrate, and the expanded light show could be seen from almost everywhere in the city.
“I want to give a huge shoutout to all of our sponsors and the folks who came out,” Brown said. “It’s a huge thing for the community, and it’s amazing that people decided to put in the money to provide this opportunity for everybody.”