Faithful flock to FrostFest
By RANDY GONZALES
While some onlookers were watching Saturday night's 13th annual FrostFest parade in their vehicles -- with the engine running to keep warm -- there also were some hardy souls who braved the frigid temperatures for the 15-minute parade on Main Street.
Count the Mai and Rupp families among them.
E.T. Mai and his wife, Tracy, and children Colton, 11, and Peyton, 7, were taking it all in -- the light snow falling, the brightly-colored floats -- despite the 14-degree temperature and a wind chill of minus 2.
"Tradition," E.T. Mai said. "It's not too bad. The wind's not blowing. It's FrostFest, what can you say?"
Tracy said the family tries to go to the parade every year.
"We love the floats and just the Christmas lights and Santa Claus," she said. "It's just a wonderful family event. I love it."
While their son, Colton, likes seeing the tractors, their daughter, Peyton, has a different favorite part.
"Get candy," she said.
E.T. Mai said he hasn't started Christmas shopping yet.
"Waiting for the Christmas bonus," he said.
Tracy Mai hasn't bought presents yet, either.
"Nope. I'm waiting for his bonus, too," she said with a laugh.
Jeremy and Jill Rupp were standing on the next block watching the parade. Their children, Abbi, 7, and Leevi, 4, all were bundled up sitting in chairs. They try to watch the parade every year, too.
"I don't know if it's always snowing, but it's always cold," Jill Rupp said.
Jeremy Rupp said the parade is good family fun.
"Get the kids out, letting them see it," he said.
The bitter cold took its toll on at least one parade entry. Nex-Tech's float -- a train locomotive pulling four brightly-lit cars -- still was sitting on a flatbed trailer mere minutes before the start. The John Deere riding mower disguised as the locomotive had a dead battery. But a quick jump saved the day.
"The cold weather got the best of our battery," said Nex-Tech marketing analyst Kevin Koenigsman. "It's going to run. We jumped it, and now we're ready to go."
Just before the start of the parade, Jessica Spencer strategically was placed near a space heater atop the Carrico Implement Co. float. Her husband works for Carrico and asked her to ride on the float. Saturday was her first FrostFest parade.
Having a heater helps on a night fit for Santa. But Spencer said she wouldn't be alone enjoying the heater's comfort.
"I'm sure I'm not going to be the only one hogging it," she said.
Santa and Mrs. Claus brought up the rear of the parade, riding in a vintage fire truck from Hays Fire Department. They waved to one and all as the snow swirled around them as they disappeared into the night.