League City Mayor Pat Hallisey opened the Grand Parade on Saturday night as the highlight of the 20th Holiday in the Park festival downtown.
“We love you, Mayor Pat,” people in the crowd called out as the Jeep he rode in came to a stop at the corner of Park Avenue and Main Street.
“I’m going to tell you something,” Hallisey said in a microphone. “When I came down Main Street, I saw all the people. It’s good to be home. This is what it is all about. Thank you for being out here.”
The crowd roared back at him with cheers and applause.
Hallisey, who suffered a heart attack Oct. 10, was hospitalized for weeks after several leg surgeries. He returned home earlier this week. The parade was his first public appearance since the heart attack.
His challenges and the challenges that Hurricane Harvey brought won’t stop Christmas, members of League City Proud said.
League City Proud puts together the festival every year. The 20th Holiday in the Park began Friday and continues today in League Park, with most activities centered in the wreath-laden gazebo. The event has featured classic movies, several parades, Santa pictures and 20,000 pounds of snow.
“We need that right now,” Janice Hallisey, the mayor’s wife, said before the parade. “It doesn’t matter what part of the city you live in.”
Twenty years ago, Tommy Cones, Angelo Arolfo, Mary Anne Malfa and the Halliseys started the Holiday in the Park tradition.
“The city didn’t want us to do it,” Janice Hallisey said. Having a parade means more police work and blocking streets, and convincing all the right people to go along with the idea was an effort.
“I almost had to go door-to-door to get support,” she said.
The first year, the parade only had 30 entries. This year, there were 150 entries. The weekend also includes a children’s costume parade and a pet parade.
“We’re just going to have a blast under the oak trees,” Janice Hallisey said.