Holiday hoopla: Hundreds gather for weekend of parades across Wayne County
By Kelly Corbett, Gary Popp and Ty Johnson
Published in News on December 4, 2011 1:50 AM
Students from Fremont STARS wish the crowd lined up in Fremont a Merry Christmas during the Fremont Christmas Parade.
Santa Claus, a.k.a. Mark Best, accompanied by his helper, Morgan Haswell, waves to the crowd at the Mount Olive Christmas Parade on Saturday morning.
The Bullocks have made it a point to attend multiple Christmas parades this holiday season, the latest one being the Goldsboro Jaycees Christmas Parade on Saturday afternoon.
Jan, Donnie and Wes Bullock left the Princeton parade, which began at 1 p.m., and arrived at their spot downtown at 2:30 p.m., for a prime viewing of their fourth parade of the year from the back of their black Ford F-150. They also watched the parades in Raleigh and Kenly.
"I like the mini rigs, clowns and all that," Jan Bullock said. "We like the bands, there's supposed to be eight bands here."
Before the parade began, two members of the Spring Creek High School marching band were waiting to begin their second parade of the day. They had already taken part in the Mount Olive parade Saturday morning.
Angel Trujillo has been playing the clarinet since the sixth grade and is now a senior.
"We haven't done this since I've been in high school, so this is our first year," she said.
Junior Daniel Larimore plays the saxophone and said they were also in the Veteran's Day Parade.
"We did Mount Olive this morning and that was long and tiring," he said.
He said the trek down Center Street was going to be significantly shorter.
Grand Marshals Mayor Al King and 2011 Miss North Carolina Hailey Best led the parade. They were followed by 110 other parade entries, including Boy Scouts, fire trucks, Zumba dancers and more.
Candy apples and popcorn were popular treat choices being sold at the parade, since candy could not be thrown onto the street.
Macie Bell, 16, ate a candy apple while enjoying the parade.
"When I was little, I was a Twirlette," she said. "I was in StageStruck with Hailey Best."
She said she also expected to know many other people in the parade since she goes to Eastern Wayne High School. She said she was excited to see all of the floats, but seemed particularly happy when Santa Claus and his elves rode by on a truck.
Tamiya Boone, 4, had her mind on the dancing.
Tamiya and Amarion Sims, 2, shared a red wagon full of empty popcorn boxes.
"He likes the fire trucks," Shanice Sims said. "It's his first time."
Cheering could be heard from both sides of the street, but Miranda Ellis did not miss an opportunity to cheer for each group going by.
"My son just went by on the Rosewood ROTC float," she said.
Her son, Jared Ellis, is a sophomore at Rosewood High School and was also in the Veteran's Day Parade.
"He's in the ROTC so he's got to represent," Mrs. Ellis said.
The All Stars cheerleading team shook their red and black pom-poms as they passed by and Mrs. Ellis made sure to cheer for them too.
"We try to support all of them," Mrs. Ellis said. "You hear us hollering for all the schools, right? They've got to know they're doing a good job."
She said they enjoy listening to the bands.
"And, of course, Santa Claus -- the big star," Mrs. Ellis said. "We're just big kids."
Another couple stood waiting for Santa Claus to come by as well.
Charlie and Barbara Vinciguerra have lived in Goldsboro for 25 years and come to the parade every year.
"It's kind of a hometown feel," Mrs. Vinciguerra said. "I thought the little reindeer were cute. The kids dressed up like reindeer. The people in the parade look like they're having fun. At least it's not raining and snowing like last year."
The Mount Olive "Countdown to Christmas" Parade served as a festive beginning to an eventful Saturday.
More than 100 floats made their way down Breazeale Avenue through the crowds of families eager for candy and a sneak peek of Santa Claus.
Police Chief Brian Rhodes slowly led the front of the parade out of the Food Lion parking lot followed by Grand Marshal Ralph Schroeder, the former police chief.
Elias Esparza, 9, said he has been to the parade three times and the "honk, honk" of the firetrucks is his favorite part. "And the candy -- that's all."
Schroeder was the first one to begin the candy craze by throwing a handful of candy as soon as he turned out of the parking lot. creating a dash of children into the street.
The Futrelles, from Grantham, were in the prime location for the parade, across the street from the starting point. They arrived at about 9:15 a.m.
"We do it every year -- same place," Renee Futrelle said.
She said they enjoy seeing friends and neighbors in the parade and "remembering when we used to be in it years ago."
George Futrelle was in multiple parades when he was a teenager since he was a member of the Southern Wayne High School band. He would even attend the Mount Olive, Fremont and Goldsboro parades all in one day.
"Mount Olive always has a good parade," Futrelle said.
Their daughter, Meredith, currently attends Southern Wayne High School and was on the lookout for the Southern Wayne cheerleaders.
The Futrelles were not done with Christmas parades when the Mount Olive march ended. They planned to attend the Fremont parade later that afternoon.
The Overtons were set up for prime parade viewing, in front of Cut-N-Up Hair Salon with chairs in the back of a pickup truck.
"It started when our children were little," Angela Overton said. "To us, it's a bigger and better parade. It's not as crowded."
Mrs. Overton and her daughter-in-law, Jessica Floars, and grandson, Brandon Overton, arrived at their spot early at 8 a.m.
"We got here, and within 15 minutes, you could see them lining up on the other side of the road," she said.
The parade came to a close with the pattering of hooves on the cement.
A horse rider left the crowd in awe by hopping his horse sideways down the road.
Folks from across northern Wayne County lined the streets of downtown Fremont for the town's annual Christmas parade Saturday afternoon.
Nearly 90 vehicles took part in the procession that showered butterscotch, peppermint and other candies onto the nearly 2,000 onlookers.
Fremont Alderman Leroy Ruffin and his wife, Frances, served as the parade's Grand Marshals.
"It is an honor just being honored," Ruffin said.
The couple rode in the parade's lead vehicle, a 1930 Ford Model A.
Ruffin said each year the parade ushers in the holiday season for many of the town's residents.
"It really gives people a lot of joy, and it gives the citizens in the town and the area a good reason to come together," he said.
Keith Stewart, co-owner of Fremont Pharmacy and the parade's primary organizer, said Ruffin was deserving of the title of Grand Marshal for his long service to the town.
Stewart also praised Sheriff Carey Winders for providing the Wayne County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard, which led the parade.
He said the Honor Guard selflessly stepped up after a last-minute cancellation.
The pride of the county's emergency services was celebrated during the parade as nearly a third of the entries were emergency response vehicles.
Along with fire trucks and ambulances, many area churches and local business entered parade floats and vehicles.
A crowd favorite was the dynamic display presented by the Wayne County Shriners Club.
The organization's members entered nearly 15 "Mini Rigs," go carts with miniature semi-truck bodies.
The loud motors of the micro vehicles captured the crowd's attention as the Shriners drove in figure eight and circle patterns.
Long-time Fremont residents Lois Holland Mooring, 86, and Leah Howell Bass, 78, both said they have regularly attended Fremont's parades for several decades.
"Fremont is home," Mrs. Mooring said. "I don't believe I would know how to live anywhere else."
Standing proudly, Mrs. Mooring attended the parade in a festive head-to-toe red outfit adorned with Christmas accents and seasonal earrings.
She said she has been coming to the Fremont parade since 1948.
"It is very interesting and fun for everybody," Mrs. Mooring said. "I am like a child. I enjoy it all."
Mrs. Bass said she has attended nearly every parade Fremont has presented and that she loves watching the marching bands perform most of all.
Sisters Abby and Katie Bauguess, of Pikeville, stood near the beginning of the parade with plastic grocery bags bulging with candy they had collected from the passing floats.
Katie, a seventh-grader at Norwayne Middle, extended an invitation to everyone in the Wayne County to visit the Fremont parade.
"Everybody should come. It is really, really fun," she said.
Katie said she is active in the band at her school, so her favorite part of the parade was watching the marching band from Charles B. Aycock High School.
Abby, a fifth-grader at Northeast Elementary, said she had collected enough candy to last her for at least a month.
The girls said they were able to collect so much candy because they had positioned themselves in the perfect location, near the beginning of the parade when the floats had plenty of sweets to throw out.
"We had a very good spot and we get to see everybody that goes by," Abby said. "I will be back next year."
The Princeton Christmas Parade wasn't to start for another 10 minutes, but Leigh Anne Price couldn't wait any longer.
Calling to her friends Janet Martin and Tove Hansen, she instructed them to wave at the approaching tractor-trailer driver as if he was in the parade. The three began waving and frantically pulling at imaginary air horns as the 18-wheeler approached.
The driver honked loudly when he saw the parade-goers, some of which have been going to the big holiday event for decades -- and standing in their favorite spot, near the parade's start.
Mrs. Price, 51, said she and her crew had arrived an hour early to secure the seat that kept them close to the start -- when those in the procession still had heavy sacks of candy to distribute.
Her daughters, Macie Price, 12, and Anna Autry, 18, joked about how embarrassing she was, but there was no doubt in their minds that the parade was the only way to usher in the holiday season -- after all, they had hardly missed any of them during their lives.
That was the case for many of the hundreds lining the streets of Pikeville Saturday afternoon, as the parade is certainly a family affair for residents of the area.
Kristie and Kelcie Thomas were standing nearby Mrs. Price and shuttled between North Pearl and South Center Streets during the parade -- just as Mrs. Price said she used to do to maximize her candy haul.
Kristie, 18 and Kelcie, 15 have been attending the parade ever since they first appeared in it -- when Kelcie was in third grade and the two were involved with Tippy Toes Dance.
Their mother, Sherry, was selling wreaths outside the Lions Club and said the family tradition was one they had always embraced -- Kristie even came home from college to make sure she didn't miss it.
No matter how old they are, though, the sisters' obsession with candy fuels their holiday passion during the parade. Together with their friend, Cierra Tew, 14, they argued over M&Ms and other assorted sweets, all while Kelcie continued to cheat death running into the road to retrieve candy.
"They're giving out more than they used to," she said, thinking back on her stashed away inventory of Jolly Ranchers, Skittles and an extensive collection of peppermints.
"They gave out a lot of peppermints."
But while the veterans were content to let their candy sit nearby, Justice, 2, wasn't about to let his candy out of his sight.
While his brothers Kurtis, 6, and Wesley, 7, continued to collect candy under his mother's watchful eye, he sat on a blanket with his legs wide around his candy pile and began his selection process. His mom, Cathy Denning, continued to point out candy to his brothers while he unwrapped a pack of Smarties, scattered them on the blanket, and silently enjoyed his spoils.
Ms. Denning's cousin, Kim Vann, was nearby with one-year-old Dylan, who was at his first parade. MacKenzie, 4, was in the parade with Tippy Toes -- just as Ms. Vann had been when she was nine and with the Twirlettes.
A family affair indeed.