Hundreds line streets to welcome holiday season
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 3, 2006 2:00 AM
With a candy cane in hand, Trey Pickett watched as cars, floats, horses and fire trucks made their way down Center Street Saturday evening.
Still, the 6-year-old Wayne County resident said he wouldn't be satisfied until Santa's sleigh was in sight.
"Is that Santa?" the boy asked his mother, Ginny.
"Looks like it," she replied.
The Picketts were among hundreds -- if not thousands -- of residents in attendance for this year's Goldsboro Jaycees Christmas Parade, Goldsboro Police Chief Tim Bell said.
As Santa approached the crowd with a "Ho, ho, ho," Trey squeezed his mother's hand and jumped again and again.
"Santa," he yelled. "Santa, I'm over here."
The jolly man must have heard his cry. With a wave and a "Merry Christmas," he had made the little boy's day, his mother said.
"He wrote Santa a letter with some of the boys in our neighborhood," Mrs. Pickett said. "When we told Trey he might be at the parade, he wouldn't stop talking about it."
Other people came to enjoy an evening filled with music, candy apples and local celebrity sightings, they said.
Will and Betty Stokes were two of them.
"I've always liked the Goldsboro High School Marching Band," Mrs. Stokes said. "I just love to see how excited they get when they play."
Her husband agreed.
"The young children are the best part," he said. "Parades should be about them anyway. Look, they're dancing and having a ball. That's how it should be."
The couple covered up as the sun went down, knowing full well that cold weather was in the forecast.
"I wish it weren't so chilly," Stokes said. "It might thin that crowd out too much."
But when the downtown lights were turned on, some said they were glad colder weather had set in for the holiday season.
"It's not too cold, but at least it feels like December," LaGrange resident Cathy White said. "This is how Christmas is supposed to feel. All those record highs are getting kind of old."
She even brought a thermos full of hot chocolate for her two children to make the experience that much better, she said.
"You want the kids to associate this time of year with the cold, the snow and the things that warm you up," she said. "That's what it's all about."
Trey disagreed. Christmas is about something else for him.
"Mom said without Santa, there is no Christmas," he said. "He's right there, look."
And it's about the presents and the food, the carols and lights, too, his mother added.
"When you hear the Red Hat Ladies singing from their float, and the Boy Scouts and all, you know the big day is right around the corner," she said. "Now, if I can just get my shopping done."
She whispered the last part -- knowing a slight slip could damage Santa's reputation.
"Hey mom, do you think he'll give me a skateboard?" Trey asked. "I know he got my letter."
"We'll just have to wait and see," Mrs. Pickett replied. "If you're good, he knows."
Goldsboro's celebration wasn't the only one held Saturday. Fremont, Mount Olive and Princeton also saw large crowds gather to catch a glimpse of Santa, Rudolph, Christmas trees and lights.
But Trey knew where the "real" Santa was.
"That was him," he told his 10-year-old brother Chris. "He waved to me and everything."
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