Santa’s the guy with that special something that just pulls kids of all ages right to him.
As he made his way through downtown Columbia Saturday morning, a big red pickup truck giving his sleigh its go-power, parade watchers spilled from the sidewalks into the street to get close to the big guy, who rounded out the 61st annual Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade.
Nearly 100 local groups, from churches and high school bands to dance troupes and pageant queens, joined Santa on floats and on foot to ring in the holiday season in the Capital City.
Just the right amount of chill in the air, and no more than a few raindrops, kept the crowd in festive spirits.
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Markita Belton, of Winnsboro, didn’t need a parade to get her in the Christmas spirit – she’s been there for a month, already enjoying tree decorating and Christmas music with her family.
She brought her two sons, Dedric and Tyon, to Columbia to see the parade for the first time, joining her sister, Tanya Peay, and her sister’s son, Kingston.
“We’re definitely going to try to make this a tradition,” Belton said.
Tyon, 8, said he liked the music, as a number of high school marching bands filled the streets with the sounds of cheerful Christmas tunes. His older brother, 12-year-old Dedric, who plays the trombone himself, said while watching bands in the parade was fun, he preferred being on the marching end of it.
A little farther down the sidewalk, 5-year-old Mason and 3-year-old Thane Schollee craned their necks to see who was marching toward them next. They huddled next to other children on the curb, with a prime parade view in front of the State House, many of them so excited they were tempted over and over again to creep from the sidewalk to the street, their parents pulling them back.
While their dad is stationed at Fort Jackson, the Schollee family has been enjoying getting to know Columbia and taking advantage of fun family events like the parade, said Lauren Schollee, Mason and Thane’s mom.
This year will be the Schollees’ first Christmas not spent with their extended family in Arizona, and they’re looking forward to starting traditions among the four of them, Schollee said.
“I just love Christmas, and wherever we live, I always like to do the things of where we live and get a feel of the city. I think it’s a really great way to do that, going to the local parades and stuff,” Schollee said. “To see my kids so excited is the best part.”