Christmas Parade entertains in downtown Sanford
Hundreds of people lined the streets around downtown Sanford for the annual Christmas Parade held Monday night, which featured dozens of floats — from politicians and Junior ROTC programs to dancers, classic cars and, of course, Santa.
Carolers serenaded the crowds near Steele Street and Carthage Street as children ran around or tossed a football in the road, waiting for the parade to make its way up from its starting point at Wicker Street and Carthage Street. Along Steele Street, Shea and Amanda Jones — volunteers with the Central Carolina Jaycees, the multi-county civic group that organizes the parade — said they were excited to be stationed on the parade path this year instead of working behind the scenes, as they had in the past.
“We’ve got three kids in the parade, and we’re actually going to be able to see them this year,” Amanda said.
Added Shea: “My son is leading the parade with his best friend, holding the banner, so that’s pretty exciting.”
For Trenton and Devin Turner, ages 4 and 5, the excitement all centered around Santa Claus. They came all the way from Fayetteville with their parents Terrance Turner and Candice Bromell-Turner.
“The whole way up here, that’s all they were talking about in the car, was seeing Santa,” Turner said.
Bromell-Turner said she grew up in Sanford and used to come to the parade all the time, and she wanted her children to have the experience as well. Similarly, William Hancock was standing near Horner Boulevard and Wicker Street watching the parade for the 13th straight year; he had also brought along his four young children to see the action.
SEE PARADE/PAGE A7
“I think the boys, they like the police cars, and the girls like the cheerleaders,” Hancock said.
And as for him? “I think I want to see the old school cars. I’m a Chevy man myself.”
A pair of police cars led the way Monday, with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Following them were a cadre of local politicians, the young cheerleaders of Cheer Extreme, then the Junior ROTC groups from Lee County High School and Southern Lee High School. Following them were the two high schools’ marching bands, who got the crowds moving with drumline-heavy versions of classic Christmas songs.
Waiting to see the Dancer’s Workshop float were Faye and Buddy Harris of Goldston, who had three granddaughters on the float — including two daughters of their son-in-law Jonathon Goldston, of Gulf, who was also with them and said he was a proud papa for his girls, ages 4 and 6. Faye Harris said they go to the Sanford and Goldston parades every year, and that each has its strengths.
“(The Sanford Christmas Parade) is a lot longer,” she said, bundled up in a blanket to fight the slight chill Monday evening. “But Goldston’s is in the day, plus you know everyone in it. So you’ve got to go.”
The parade audience wasn’t all families, though. Groups of teens and tweens were also out in force, wearing light-up necklaces or dancing to the marching bands. At one point a group of boys in soccer uniforms from a local middle school ran by, yelling about their need to catch up to a group of cheerleaders, and further down the route a group of recent high school grads reminisced about parades past.
“It’s a Sanford tradition,” 18-year-old Lindsay Ashworth said, adding that she had been going ever since she could remember. Her friends, fellow 18-year-olds Bridget Nance and Cassie Gay, agreed.
“It’s just what you do,” Nance said.
All three had been in the parade several times before, and Gay said she was looking forward to seeing which of her friends were in it this year.