A chilly morning didn’t keep thousands from lining the roadways downtown to witness Santa’s appearance in the Granite City.
Many among the thousands who eagerly awaited St. Nick remarked at how full the Christmas parade lineup was.
The parade left Veterans Memorial Park at 9 a.m. and marched up Lebanon Street before coming down Main Street, finishing after 10 a.m.
Grand marshal Donna Fargo, a country music star from Mount Airy, led the parade in Henry Rowe’s Rolls Royce convertible, and Santa Claus brought up the rear. As previously reported, the theme for the event was “The Happiest Parade in the Whole U.S.A.” — a reference to Donna Fargo’s signature song, “The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.,” which she recorded in the 1970s among other hits that made her an international star.
Many groups took part in the parade. Mount Airy High School’s marching band played as they rolled through downtown. First responders from across the county showed off their vehicles. Politicians threw candy to children, and Boy Scouts marched in the parade. Veterans groups rode on floats, and many local businesses had their own floats.
Of course, there was Santa, who rode on a sleigh at the end of the line-up. He also made an appearance at the Carlos Jones Blue Ridge Park at the corner of North Main and West Oak Streets following the parade. Many children took advantage of the opportunity to present their Christmas wish lists to Santa.
Santa still had a line of children waiting for him at noon, according to Downtown Business Association (DBA) secretary Jennie Lowry, who organized the parade on behalf of the DBA.
Lowry said the parade wasn’t atypically long, as it usually lasts for about 90 minutes. More than 100 businesses, civic groups and non-profit organizations registered to take part in the parade. However, first responders don’t register. Thus, the parade included many more vehicles and groups.
“There was more participation than usual,” said Lowry. “We are absolutely more than happy.”
She said she is thankful to all of those businesses and groups who took part in the parade.
“The parade wouldn’t be possible without all of those folks,” she remarked.
Lowry also extended her thanks to Fargo, believing the singer and song writer’s participation really helped make Saturday’s events a success.
“Just a couple of the folks I had a chance to talk to watching the parade mentioned they were from Kentucky, and another family came from Concord to enjoy the parade,” explained Lowry. “The addition of Donna Fargo as grand marshal really made the parade over the top this year.”
“It definitely increased participation and the number of spectators.”
Small business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is a nationwide effort to encourage people to shop locally, and many folks stuck around after the parade to do their holiday shopping on Main Street.
“There is no parking available on the streets,” said Lowry at about noon on Saturday. “People are eating downtown, and many businesses are packed.”
She said the DBA passed out hundreds of shop small advertising bags, and supporting local businesses is something folks ought to consider.
“It is small businesses which participate in community events like this,” explained Lowry. “Those are typically the businesses which give back to the local community and support local non-profit groups.”
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.