Father Christmas, Wise Men, city and county administrators and others officially welcomed the holiday season to downtown Provo Friday with the annual Christmas Parade down University Avenue.

Co-sponsored by the Deseret News Utah County Bureau and the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce, the parade hosted more than 50 entries, including the Deseret News Snow Prince and Princess.Stephanie Mashburn and Ian Childs reign as this year's Deseret News Snow Princess and Prince. The children won this distinction by answering the Deseret News' question, "The best present this Christmas would be. . ."

Ten-year-old Stephanie said: "The best present this Christmas would be to have peace. My father is a Naval officer. I don't want anyone to go to war. I love my country and my dad."

Ian, a 6-year-old student at Provost Elementary said, "The best present this Christmas would be a home for everybody. I hope that soldiers can be home and homeless people can have a home."

Both children received $50 gift certificates, a photo of themselves in their royal attire and the chance to follow Brigham Young University President Rex Lee, the parade's Grand Marshal, as part of the opening festivities.

The parade included city officials and royalty from communities throughout Utah Valley. Of course the most notable entries in the parade were Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Following the parade, Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins flipped a switch at the Provo Tabernacle, turning on Christmas lights and decorations in the downtown area.

New to downtown this year is a specially designed Nativity scene. With the help of the Women's Division of the Chamber of Commerce, several private businesses and art students from BYU, the Nativity scene has found a home at the Provo Tabernacle.