Seventeen month old Benjamin Street was already in his Jingle Bell jungle theme costume as float builders gathered at his parents’ home in Western Branch. The pressure is on. This is the first time the Down Syndrome Association has been entered in the grand illumination parade.
"I am proud to be represented in this parade. I know there were a lot of candidates; a lot of applications and to be chosen - it was really amazing," said Katrina Klingensmith of the Hampton Roads Down Syndrome Association
The float will display a slogan used all across the country: Step Up for Down Syndrome. Denille Francis, with son Quinn, was the one who really designed the float, starting with a professional looking sketch.
“We want people to hear the words 'Down Syndrome' and ask questions. We don't want folks to be afraid. We really want to promote that folks with Down Syndrome are important parts of the community and can be included and should be included in every part of community life," said Denille Francis, Board Member of the Hampton Roads Down Syndrome Association.
The local Down Syndrome association has some 700 families as members, like Benjamin's family.
"Typically, children with down syndrome have some developmental delays in gross motor skills and fine motor skills, as well as some cognitive delays. However, Benjamin is doing very, very well. He's very, very healthy," said Amy Street
So that’s the story of Benjamin and his mother. But it's his dad who's heading up the float building construction. Will he be ready?
"Yeah. Oh yeah. Well, I mean there's no option,” said Ray Street laughing. “We gotta be ready" (still laughing).