Good spots were plentiful at this year's Columbia Carillon Holiday Parade as the threat of bad weather seemed to repel all but the truly faithful from coming out Saturday.
But many of those who lined the Gervais Street route and called the rain's bluff said the parade was as fun as ever - an event that should not yield to the elements.
"I've come to every one that I could since my children were little," said Kay McCrary, who was seated along the street in front of the State House. "We need to be community, and there are certain points of community we ought to keep, and this is one of them."
McCrary sat alone. She had intended to bring her first grandchild, John Adam Baylor, to see the parade, but the 8-month-old was stuck at home with an ear infection.
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While high school marching bands, various steppers and singers, and only a bare minimum of waving politicians managed to keep the sparse crowd busy for nearly an hour and a half, it was a children's band that stole quite a few hearts.
The Logan Elementary School steel drum band won the parade's award as the most entertaining entry overall.
A 5K road race preceded the parade.
David and Mikki Nordman of Blythewood brought their five children - Mychal, 10, Tyler, 9, Savannah, 8, Sadie, 6, and Hope, who is only 4 months old - to the parade.
"It's a family tradition with us," Mikki Nordman said. "It was raining when we left home this morning and much colder last year than this, so we wouldn't miss it."
David Nordman said he saw a brighter side to the smaller crowds: "To be honest, I like it thinned out like this," he said.
Tammy Johns, parade chairman, said the day turned out well overall.
"I'm a little sad that people stayed away due to the weather," she said.
But Johns said she received texts and other messages from people who indicated they were watching the parade on television.
"Apparently this year, a lot of people decided to watch the parade from their warm, dry homes," Johns said.
Across the street, as the parade wound down around 11:30 a.m., Kiwana Robinson, who said she hadn't attended a Columbia Christmas parade in several years, couldn't contain her zeal.
"Merry Christmas, Santa!" she yelled out above the quieted crowd.
Impressed (or maybe startled) as he passed by, Santa stood up in his sleigh and pointed to Robinson, returning the Yuletide greeting.
------------By the numbers
12 PERFORMING UNITS
(singers, dancers, steppers)
9 MARCHING BANDS
1 CHILDREN'S BAND
1.5 HOURS: DURATION OF PARADE
80 TOTAL ENTRIES
(floats, nonprofit groups, others)
1 SANTA CLAUS