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Thousands In Cincinnati Celebrate Christmas Early To Support Terminally Ill Boy

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

It was 73 degrees outside and plenty humid when Santa Claus rode down a suburban Cincinnati street yesterday in his sleigh. More than a thousand people turned out in an effort to make one sick little boy smile. From member station WVXU, Ann Thompson reports.

ANN THOMPSON, BYLINE: Brody Allen loves everything about Christmas, but the 2-year-old won't likely be able to experience it this year. He's diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Earlier this month, his mom Shilo Allen put out a simple request on Facebook. It said, our wish is to be able to provide Christmas to our little boy and make it the best Christmas ever. We ask or encourage you to bring any Christmas decor to our residence to light up the night.

SHILO ALLEN: Just started coming - packages, and people dropping off stuff and more people dropping off stuff. And then they started decorating, and they started decorating.

THOMPSON: Soon decorations and presents began streaming in from all over the world. That then snowballed into a new plan. Why not give the toddler his own Christmas parade?

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORN)

THOMPSON: Sitting on his mom's lap in the back of a pickup truck, a smiling Brody Allen acting as the grand marshal tossed candy to onlookers. Snowmen floats, artificial snow-making machines, motorcycles and clown cars all followed him along a mile-long route. Chad Ballard helped organize this parade in only 10 days.

CHAD BALLARD: What was going to start off as a small few cars through the neighborhood grew into something amazing.

THOMPSON: Ryan Simpson is known around here as Mr. Christmas. He was quick to get on board with the effort, bringing lights and Christmas inflatables to the Allens' single-story home.

RYAN SIMPSON: I think we get lumped into a society of negativity, and it's really not bad as it really seems. And Christmas brings out the best of folks. And even though it is only September, you could see the actual turnout today that's awesome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARCHING BAND)

THOMPSON: As the awesome parade wound down, Brody Allen's sister McKenzie says she found it all remarkable.

MCKENZIE ALLEN: He was so happy. It was amazing. I mean, not just for him, but for everybody. And it - I really don't have the words, but he was - it made his day. It made everybody's day.

THOMPSON: It's been a busy couple of weeks for the toddler. Now that the parade is over, he's back at home playing with all his new toys. He's also making multiple trips to the mailbox to gather the dozens of Christmas cards that still arrive every day. For NPR News, I'm Ann Thompson in Cincinnati.

(SOUNDBITE OF VINCE GUARALDI TRIO'S "WHAT CHILD IS THIS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.