So you can’t get a local hero who’s an astronaut for your holiday parade? Get the next best thing — her parents. Mount Ayr leaders wanted to feature Peggy Whitson in Saturday’s celebration, but she’s not able to get away from Houston just yet, so Whitson’s mom and dad are this year’s grand marshals for Mount Ayr’s annual Lighted Christmas Parade. Vesta Shaha, the event organizer, says Keith and Beth Whitson of Beaconsfield will be in a sleigh, pulled by a car. Their daughter just returned to earth aboard the space shuttle Endeavour last weekend after spending 185 days in orbit. She was the first science officer aboard the International Space Station. Shaha says Whitson’s parents were happy to be the second choice.The parade will feature some unusual items this year, in honor of the Whitsons, including two large rockets, though Shaha says the event will not exactly resemble the Red Square May Day celebrations in the former Soviet Union.The lighted parade is scheduled to start at 5:30 tomorrow night. It’ll begin at Mt. Ayr’s restored train depot.
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