LUMBERTON — Sunny skies and parade-perfect temperatures prevailed as Lumberton welcomed in the holiday season Saturday morning with its annual Christmas Parade.
The 2017 edition had 150 entries and ran just shy of two hours as marching bands, dancing troupes, businesses, beauty queens, politicians, antique cars and tractors and tricked-out motorcycles rolled up Elm Street.
Children have different ideas about what is the best part of Lumberton’s Christmas Parade.
“Santa Claus,” said Izaiah Whitted.
“The little cars, and the guys in funny hats,” said Katherine Wilcox, referring to the Sudan Tomcats. Wilcox was not disappointed, as the Shiners, funny hats and all, thrilled large crowds again this year.
Lumberton police Office John Simmons was returning to his car to get a coat against the morning chill, but he noted the best part is “watching the people enjoying themselves.”
The crowd began putting chairs out more than an hour before the parade started, and the side streets and parking lots along Elm Streets were filled by show time.
Karen Jenkins has been bringing the Triple-Toe Cloggers from Laurinburg to perform in the Lumberton parade for 22 years.
“The girls will be dancing the whole way,” Jenkins said of the two-mile parade route. “We enjoy coming here every year. It’s a nice parade.”
Congressman Robert Pittenger, representing Robeson and the 9th District, arrived early from Charlotte to ride in the parade.
“I’m an early riser, any way, and we started early this morning,” Pittenger said. “I love a parade. The visuals are so wonderful.”
Cindy Kern runs the show for the Lumberton Area Chamber of Commerce. She was driving up and down the staging area on First Street in a golf cart checking her list of entries.
“I’m staying warm,” Kern said. “This is about the same size parade we have every year.”
One question Kern gets every year is, “Why is the Christmas Parade before Thanksgiving every year?” Because of the calendar this year, the 2017 edition was one of the earliest dates possible.
“After Thanksgiving, people get busy, and it’s much harder to get volunteers. I have plenty of volunteers,” she said. “This is also the best time to rent floats. The city of Raleigh has its Christmas Parade today too.”
About 25 years ago, when a parade ended in darkness and a cold drizzle with a low turnout of entries and spectators, Lumberton made the switch, and it’s been hailed as a success ever since.
Dan and Mira Kenney and Ron and Colleen Brown have enjoyed the Saturday parade. Neighbors on Elm Street, they’ve hosted lawn parties for many years.
“This is our 19th consecutive year,” Kenney said. “We’ll have hot chocolate, coffee and snacks this year.”
The Browns have hosted their parade party since the first year of Saturday parades.
“It’s just a good way to kick off the holiday season last year at the parade. We have a good crowd today and every year,” Brown said. “Because of the crowds here, we always get the bands to play and the dancers to dance for us here. It’s fun to see.”
For those who missed Saturday’s fun, Rowland will be holding its Christmas parade on Saturday at 10 a.m. Entries are still be accepted for the parade, which will begin lining up at Rowland Middle School at 8 a.m. Next up will be Fairmont’s Twilight Christmas Parade as a part of its 10th annual Christmas on Main event on Dec. 1 beginning at 6:30 p.m.