Moms and dads had their children dressed out in their wet weather gear, but it was a relatively warm day and the children appeared to be enjoying not only the parade, but also jumping up and down in the occasional puddle.
“It was a damp day, but that didn’t dampen spirits,” said Jennifer Clements, chairwoman for the Christmas Parade group for the Blue Plum Organization.
The parade started at the East Tennessee State University campus in a light rainfall. The crowd was rather light but enthusiastic on the first part of the parade route along West Walnut Street. One man riding on one of the floats spoke into the microphone to say “think snow, that might stop the rain.” The crowd laughed, but his suggestion may have been on target, for the rains let up about half way through the parade.
The theme of this year’s parade was “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The first-place float not only adhered to the theme, but even displayed its own revision of the words. Clements said the winning float was built by Central Baptist Church. She said Smallville took second and the Southside Neighborhood took third.
As always, the East Tennessee State University Marching Buccaneers and the Science Hill High School Topper Band sounded especially good while walking down the echo chamber that is downtown Main Street. The ETSU band showed it can entertain without instruments. They sang an a cappella “Jingo Bells,” completed with the chant “Go Bucs”.
Of course, the real attraction of every boy and girl watching the parade was not mud puddles or floats or the candy that was given out. It was the arrival of Santa Claus. Once again, he got a big cheer as he made his approach. He was visible from very far away, thanks to his red suit and the fact his good friends with the Johnson City Fire Department allowed him to sit atop their ladder truck.