"I can't even put words to it. I just love the Christmas parade," the 18-year-old said.
Todd co-chaired the 40th annual event that took place Saturday morning in downtown Springfield. About 1,000 people watched, said David Pickett, president of the sponsoring Jaycees.
"It's all about giving back to the community what I took from it as I was growing up," said Todd, an English and secondary education student at the University of Illinois Springfield who's been volunteering with the Jaycees since 2007. "It's something you've done since you were a kid. It's something you want to make sure all the other kids get to do.
"It welcomes the season."
Forty-two area businesses and organizations participated this year, which is fewer than the normal 70-plus, organizers said. Jaycees and co-sponsor Ansar Shrine members also drove old-fashioned cars, and Santa and Mrs. Claus were there. Women from Springfield's roller derby league skated while tossing candy to children lining the parade route. Some groups even brought dogs to walk.
This year, the parade fee was lowered from $20 to $10 in hopes of encouraging more participation.
"I think of it more as a right than a money-maker," Todd said about joining the parade. "Everybody grows up going to the Christmas parade."
The weather cooperated, despite a few raindrops.
Kevin and Jeannie Urbanski of Petersburg attended with their granddaughter Kaylee, who turns 2 in January. Grandma and grandpa wanted to show her what the holiday season is all about.
"(We're) trying to get her introduced into traditions," Kevin Urbanski said. "She's having a good time."
Eight-year-old A.J. McAllister of Springfield attended with his dad, Morris McAllister, and looked forward to seeing Santa. They first attended the parade last year.
Springfield's Nicole Evans and her 8-year-old daughter, Lydia, brought their dog, Sergeant Scott, a Pinckney who did well until the marching band from Auburn High School rattled his nerves.
Lydia loved getting candy, she said.
The family usually skips the parade because it's too cold, so mom and daughter were excited for the unseasonably warm temperatures Saturday.
Though it's become a tradition for many local residents, Pickett expressed concern for the future of the parade because it's become more costly to run. Todd said he's intent on ensuring its survival.
"I can't imagine the capital city of the state not having a Christmas parade," he said. "It's so important to the city."
Todd, who this year was named by The State Journal-Register 2011 Top Teen for his volunteer contributions, stressed that the parade is for everyone, even though it's Christmas themed.
"We want to encompass everybody's happiness," he said.