The annual Johnson City Christmas parade is a longstanding tradition that officially kicks off the holiday season. The parade itself may have changed routes over the years, but on Friday night the floats still traveled down the street, carols were still sung, candy was still tossed out, lights still twinkled and Santa Claus still wished the young and the young at heart a very merry Christmas.
For Paul and Emily Bayes, suiting up for the cold and venturing out into the crowd is part of all the fun. And they should know, because they’ve been taking in the sights and sounds of the parade for nearly 30 years.
In fact, Emily said she and her husband have only missed one Christmas parade in the last 26 years.
“If you probably sit down and be honest about it, it’s probably the same floats as in the other parades, but this is the Johnson City one, so we go to it,” Paul Bayes said.
When asked why they come out year after year, Paul laughed and said, “Just kids at heart, I guess.”
The Bayeses remember going to the parades when they were younger, and it’s always helped them ring in the holiday spirit.
“We’ve gone to parades through the years and so on. I think in every city we’ve been in, we’ve always gone to parades,” Paul said.
While the Bayeses have been to many a Christmas parade, the one in Johnson City has always remained close to their hearts.
Like the Bayeses, other families have flocked to the parade over the years in the name of tradition. Jon Overbay and his family have made the parade a staple of their holiday season for the past three years.
“We wanted to get our young girls involved in the Christmas parade and make it a tradition every year,” he said.
Seeing one of his daughters on a float has been highlight of the parade since his family started going, and finally getting a chance to see the man from North Pole is something his kids always look forward to.
“Of course Santa Claus, all the kids love Santa Claus on the float, and we enjoy the bands as well,” he said.