OGDEN -- It's the most wonderful time of the year for Camryn "Cami" Carver.
The 5-year-old, bundled in her new winter coat, led the annual Holiday Electric Light Parade down Washington Boulevard Saturday evening. Horses, buses, musicians and floats -- all decked with holiday lights -- marched down a six-block stretch of downtown Ogden as children, some perched on their parents' shoulders, cheered them and Cami on.
Each year the Make-A-Wish Foundation chooses a critically ill child to lead the parade. This year it was Cami, who was diagnosed with leukemia last July. Though she is responding well to chemotherapy, she usually does not have much energy day to day, said her mother Chelsea.
But that was not the case at the kickoff of the city's Christmas season. It seemed nothing could keep Cami from grinning ear to ear as crowds of hundreds lining the boulevard greeted her with one "Merry Christmas" after another.
"You can see how this is lifting her spirits," her mother said.
One face in the crowd was just as excited for Christmas.
Caleb Sears, 7, stood at the blocked-off intersection of 2300 South and Washington Boulevard with his 9-year-old brother Palmer, eyes scanning the floats.
"Where's Santa?" he asked. He'd been asking that for 10 minutes now, his father Jon Sears of Ogden said with a chuckle. Caleb thought he found the saint when he saw all of the marathon runners who ran through Ogden earlier in the day dressed as St. Nick.
The big man in red arrived at the tail end of the procession -- but he was not the boy's biggest surprise guest. Caleb was shocked that Darth Vader made an appearance in the parade as well, waving at the crowds from a Star Wars costume float.
Caleb and Palmer agreed that the Sith Lord is definitely on Santa's naughty list.
J'kauri Taylor, 10, hopes she is on Santa's other list. If she is, she said she hopes there is a Mindflex game in it for her.
She and her brother sat on the boulevard, clutching their hot chocolates for warmth in the chilly night. She came for Santa. Her 9-year-old brother, Tristen Taylor, enjoyed everything.
"They better have," their mother Krisma Taylor joked. "They're the whole reason I'm out here."
Santa and Cami eventually reached the end of the parade route, but nowhere near the end of the festivities.
It was time for the main event. Cami joined Santa at the Ogden City Amphitheater. With the excited cheers of the crowd behind them, she and Santa flipped the switch to turn on the lights of the annual Christmas Village. The annual lights glowed all around the crowd, as much as Cami's face glowed with excitement that she was standing side-by-side with Santa.
There was plenty for her to enjoy during the parade, from the Nutcracker recreations to horses dressed like reindeer. But meeting Santa -- who, by the way, knows the girl on the Nice List would like either a pretend computer, backyard playset or robot penguin? "That was my favorite," she said.