Family continues annual parade tradition

By Beau Ebenezer

November 29, 2013 Updated Nov 29, 2013 at 9:44 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Margaret Wikoff, 88, looks forward to the marching of Peoria's Annual Santa Claus Parade every year, and the 126th annual holiday event was no different.

"It's our family tradition," said Wikoff. "I've always wanted to come to it since I was a small child. No matter what, I tried to get here. I just love the parade. The pageantry and the Christmas spirit, I just love it."

While this year's downtown parade boasted around 80 floats, she said she remembers when the parade only had 10 or fewer.

But the parade is not the only thing that has gotten bigger.

Margaret's family has grown too.

"I've been coming for over 60 years with my mother," said Margaret's daughter, Kathleen Backes. "She wouldn't miss it for the world. She certainly has instilled that in all 11 of us children. We all come every year whether it is freezing cold or a nicer day like today. Today was a nice day to come."

10 of Margaret's 11 children made it to the parade this year along with dozens of grandchildren, filling a large portion at their traditional spot.

"It's my greatest joy," said Margaret. "It is such a blessing to have my kids so supportive of me. They just have so much patience. They just bring me and stay with me. I appreciate it so much."

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