With a knit cap pulled tight over his head and a steamy cup of hot chocolate between his hands, 6-year-old Preston Hill patiently waited for the start of the North Augusta Evening Lions Club Christmas Parade on Sunday.
While most children anticipate Santa Claus’ arrival atop a fire truck at parades, Preston had his sights set elsewhere.
“My favorite float is whatever one gives out the most candy,” he said.
With 93 entries in this year’s parade, children had plenty of opportunities to fill their pockets with candy. Faye Purcell, of the North Agusuta Evening Lions Club, said that’s just one reason the parade, which has been held by the Lions Club since the 1970s, holds a special place in her heart.
“It’s always special to me because you can see that the community really enjoys it,” she said. “We have plenty of people who are third-generation paradegoers, who say they remember watching this same parade while their daddy held them up on his shoulders.”
Ray and Lynn Fleming, last year’s recipients of the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award, were the parade’s grand marshals.
The couple led the procession down Georgia Avenue as it made a slow crawl toward the Savannah River, followed closely by North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones.
From the clop of horse hooves to the roar of American muscle cars, parade participants did their best to help patrons ignore Sunday’s wet and wintery conditions.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans were perhaps most noticeable with their rapid reloading and firing of muzzle-loading rifles.
Hearing the noise, children would shriek before succumbing to laughter.
Kevin and Karen Brown, of Martinez, who have attended the parade for more than five years, were more interested in seeing their daughters perform with Rhythm & Class Dance Studios.
Their granddaughter, 7-year-old Georgia Brown, said she likes the performers the most since Santa doesn’t dance on his float.
“It would be funny if he did,” she added.