Hundreds lined Main Street in Laurinburg this weekend to catch the annual Christmas parade, which was held on a Saturday for the first time in its history.
Led by grand marshal Cecil Chandler, a regional TV personality, the parade started at South Main St. near the train tracks and continued to Plaza Road.
Up and down the street children, like Ta’kari Hair and Rayana Hair of Gill Street, collected candy being thrown from parade floats as they marveled at the parade’s many attractions.
“This is our day. I’ve brought them every year,” said Melvin Quick, who helped Ta’kari and Rayana, his granddaughters, safely gather the candy as it was thrown.
“They really love it, and they really loved it this year,” Quick said of the Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual production.
Quick also praised the decision to move the parade to Saturday.
“I think more people were able to come. The adults are out of work and the kids are out of school. It was a good idea.”
And while the likes of Darth Vader, Smokey the Bear and the Campbell’s Soup mascots were a hit with children, they were still overshadowed by Santa Claus – who, keeping with tradition, rode in the parade’s final float.
Outside of Santa Claus, the biggest cheers of the day were for the Scotland High School varsity football team, which lost on last Friday in the East Region Championship to eventual 4-A state champions New Bern. The football players rode on a large float with bleachers.
Parade committee chair Pauline Gruver said that bands were very popular with parade-goers.
“That’s part of the reason we moved it to Saturday,” Gruver said. “We thought it would help us attract school bands, because they are in demand this time of year.”
In that respect the move to Saturday was a success, as all three of the bands that Gruver hoped would appear made it in time to march in the parade.
The Scotland High School Marching Band as well as the McColl School Marching Band were both on hand at the parade.
Representatives of the Laurinburg Police Department starting clearing the street long before the start of the parade, and patrol cars started the procession down Main Street just after 2 p.m.
There were more than 110 individual entries into this year’s parade, including fire trucks, dance troupes, limousines and youth sports teams.
Dozens of horses road in the parade this year, with a cleaning crew from the city following right behind.