Rutland celebrates 60 years of Halloween parade

RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) Firefighters and volunteers have been hard at work on Saturday, perfecting a Disney-themed creation. The float is the first on the route and I watched as they put on the final touches.

Some spend months preparing for the Rutland Halloween parade, others a little less.

"We've kind of been in crunch mode here the last couple of days," said Heather Brouillard, Owner of Miss Loraine's School of Dance.

Either way, the results are always spectacular. For the second year in a row, Miss Loraine's School of Dance is partnering with the fire department. Thirty dancers dressed as Disney characters perform behind the float, while firefighters follow along the sides. The centerpiece, a Cinderella's castle featured in last year's recital.

"I guess we're on that Disney kick," said Brouillard.

But most floats used to incorporate a slightly different, more traditional theme, superheroes. In the 1970s the parade gained fame as a must-see event for comic-book enthusiasts.

"The Rutland Halloween parade began being featured in comics, such as Batman and the Avengers and Thor," said Nikki Adams, Parks & Rec, Program Director.

Organizers say 10,000 on-lookers come from across the county. This year a record 72 floats and 17-hundred people are participating.

"This is a milestone year. Sixty years is a pretty awesome tradition to have in our community, but we plan it to the best every year," said April Cioffi, Parks & Rec, Program Director.

"Here for us in Rutland, this is as big as Christmas is," said Rutland City Mayor David Allaire.

Mayor Allaire leads the parade with Governor Phil Scott. He says the mile loop around downtown gives the city an opportunity to promote the best Rutland has to offer.

"I think it's a showcase for us. We had been working very hard on marketing the community, and we've had some success bringing in some new families, and it's a rebirth for us in a lot of ways," Allaire said.

He says the friendly float competition always helps draw the crowd.

"We're there for the fun, but it's nice to have that trophy for the kids," Brouillard said.

Floats are eligible for three trophies, Most Original, Best in Parade, and Most Creative.