The show must go on - and it did.
The 29th annual Festival of Lights parade took place as scheduled Saturday evening in downtown Colorado Springs, despite a bone-chilling, teeth chattering temperature of 3 above as the event kicked off on time at 5:50 p.m. The temperature fell to 1 below by the time the parade ended an hour later, according to the National Weather Service.
Crowds that typically jockey for position while packing the sidewalks and curbs along the Tejon Street parade route, however, were relatively sparse.
Last year's crowd numbered about 60,000 in 40-degree weather, said Terry Collinson, marking his ninth and coldest year as the parade's executive director. This year's crowd totaled perhaps 8,000 to 10,000, he said afterward.
"And maybe we didn't have that," Collinson said.
Of 83 floats, bands and other groups that were scheduled, 22 didn't make it, he said. Among those that didn't participate: 10 bands, because it was too cold to play their instruments.
Collinson said parade officials were talking as late 9 a.m. Saturday about whether to cancel. However, there was no make-up date for the event, and many parade participants had put in so much work on their floats, he said.
"We don't have a contingency," Collinson said. "We just had to go or cancel it totally."
But many were glad they did go ahead.
Daniel and Stephanie Martinez, with their two daughters and son, and friends Jeff and Liz Foster with their three daughters, arrived about 5 p.m. The two families had a prime viewing position at the corner of Tejon and Bijou streets.
You name it, they wore it: Coats, hats, gloves, hoods, boots, tights and, of course, long underwear. The adults had a thermos of black coffee and the kids had one of hot cocoa.
"It's a Christmas parade," Daniel Martinez said. "You're going to get cold around Christmas time. The kids are all bundled up, and they'll be all right. There's no danger of any cold weather injuries. We're just here to have a good time and watch the parade."
Jeff Foster said his family hadn't been to a Christmas parade in two years.
"Just to have one here in Colorado Springs that we can go to is a blessing," he said. "We're happy to be here. It's a big thing for us."