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Christmas parade brings people together in Prophetstown

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More than four months after a fire destroyed eight buildings downtown, people in Prophetstown, Illinois came together together to kick off the holiday season.

On Saturday, November 30, 2013 Prophetstown held its annual lighted Christmas Parade. The theme this year was “A Main Street Christmas,” which organizers say has added significance because of the July fire.

The town’s main street was lined with people waiting for the parade. There were carolers singing as they walked by blue, green, and red Christmas trees. The brightly lit trees are on ground that has seen much darkness.

“It was pretty devastating,” said Maggie Love, who lost her business in the fire.

On July 15, 2013 eight downtown buildings burned to the ground.

Two brothers, 12 and 16, admitted to lighting a recycling bin filled with trash on fire in downtown Prophetstown after sneaking out of their father’s house. Both were charged with felony arson.

"To just drive through town and not see the buildings, it's just weird," said Love,
"We worked so hard for something and then to have it all just gone like that it was a really hard thing to deal with."

The marks from that day won't easily go away,

"It's been a sad story with the loss of many of the businesses here," said Bonnie Miles.

But there are signs this town wants to move forward.

"Once they're gone, they're gone, but sometimes good things come from bad things," said Kim Roman.

"I think the tragedy of the fire, brought to life how important these local businesses are," said Miles.

So on this Small Business Saturday, many local Prophetstown businesses were sharing their goods. And there is even a new business in town, Beans and Burlap, that opened its doors after the fire.

"The town is trying to recover and it gave us an opportunity to just start somethings new," said Kellie Larrabee, co-owner of Beans and Burlap.

Providing hope that business can still be done in this town,

"It's uniting the town," said Larrabee.

The annual Christmas parade uniting them too,

"It sort of gives you a little bit of hope, a little bit of good cheer, it lifts the spirits up," said Mark Huntsman.

Fireman smiling as they walk past the buildings they worked to save. And a baby, sleeping peacefully, Maggie's son, born ten days after the fire.