The Saturday full of parades in Wayne County kicked off with the Mount Olive parade at 10 a.m. moving on to Fremont at 1 p.m. with the day capping off in Goldsboro.
If the cold and the rain bothered anyone at the Mount Olive Christmas Parade Saturday morning, they did not let it show.
Hundreds of people lined Breazeale Avenue Saturday to watch the parade go by, many standing in the streets to pick up candy and wave at the passersby.
As the rain began to lighten around 10 a.m., the parade began, turning left onto Breazeale Avenue from Talton Avenue. Cars from the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, the Wayne County Commissioners and local legislators were among the first down the street, tossing candy to either side of the road as they passed by.
Stacy Harper stood along the side of the road with her grandson, Truzell Perry, 2, and goddaughter, Keasia Garner, 9. She smiled as they picked up candy from the side of the road, but kept them from straying into the road itself.
Harper, who lives in Mount Olive, said she had never been to the parade before.
"This is my first year, I'm really enjoying it," she said. "I wanted to give them something to do, when I get to have them I like to go out and do something."
As the parade kept on, various church groups, community organizations and school bands joined the fun. Harper joked as a particularly enthusiastic candy-thrower atop a float sent some sugary projectiles her way.
"It's getting a little dangerous out here," she laughed as a lollipop whizzed by above her head.
Truzell, standing close by, was entirely unfazed by the candy. His only concern was getting to see the fire trucks, now slowly making their way down the road. He made sure to wave to everyone who passed by, but all the while kept his eyes on the red engines making their approach.
When the fire trucks finally showed up and sounded their sirens, Truzell could hardly have been happier. He jumped in place and waved his arms, yelling "fire, fire" and "hi, truck" as the Mount Olive Fire Department engines passed by.
As they left, Truzell made sure to give them a proper send off.
"Bye fire," he said, wistfully.
A commercial train, a SWAT armored vehicle and Santa Claus on his day off might not appear to have much in common, but all three and more were about in Fremont Saturday as the town held its annual Christmas parade.
People lined Main Street to watch as the cars, trucks and floats began their circuit. Led by Fremont Police Chief Paul Moats, the procession rolled through the center of town, the sounds of police sirens and revving engines mixing with those Christmas carols and talking people and bouncing off the walls of the surrounding buildings.
Local legislators, members of the Fremont Board of Aldermen, Sheriff Larry Pierce and other members of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office -- including several inside the armored SWAT truck -- followed Moats, as did marching bands from Charles B. Aycock and Rosewood High Schools.
Standing on the sidelines was a man with a white beard, wearing a Santa hat. He smiled as he introduced himself only as Santa, and said he often works at Berkeley Mall as the Santa Claus there. Today, however, Santa was off the clock.
"My granddaughter is in the parade, and I'm here to see her," he said. "And my grandson, this is the first year he'll be able to remember it."
Andreta Wooten, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Fremont, walked up and down the sidewalk with her granddaughter, Dmari Wooten, 5. Dmari said she was excited for Santa to ride by.
"Santa is coming to town, he's going to come to my house and give me presents," she said excitedly. Asked if she had been good this year, she didn't hesitate.
"Yes," she said with a nod, then paused to look at her grandmother as if for confirmation.
As the parade moved through, riders threw candy to the people on the sidewalk. Dmari picked up a piece of candy, and then, after looking at her grandmother, walked over to a young boy and handed it to him. Her explanation fit the spirit of the season.
"I already had lots of candy in my pocket," she said, patting her jacket. "And nana said share."
Friends and families gathered by the hundreds on Center Street Saturday afternoon, sticking it out through the chilly weather to watch the annual Goldsboro Christmas Parade roll through town.
While the parade began around 4 p.m., the crowds gathered well beforehand. People lined Center Street from where the parade began all the way to Walnut Street, where it took its first turn. First in line was Goldsboro Police Chief Mike West, followed by Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Commander Col. Christopher Sage and his family atop a military vehicle.
The sounds of drums and engines filled the air as car clubs, floats and marching bands passed by. Children danced on the side of the road to the beat of the drums, and pointed excitedly at the Goldsboro Fire Department engines as they lumbered past. One fire engine driver seemingly decided to have a bit of fun, and gave a short siren blast which had several amused bystanders jump.
A common sight each year are the Sudan Shriners "Mini-Rigs," small-scale replicas of 18-wheelers which drive in circles through the streets to entertain the crowds. This year, the mini-rig drivers took a more subdued approach, slowing down along the sides of the street to shake hands with the children, many of whom stood as tall as the Shriners were sitting down.
One child nowhere near the street level was 2-year-old Ansley Grace Pipkin. She sat atop Josh's shoulders, overlooking the proceedings.
Wrapped in blankets which fell down over her dad's arms, she gave a shy smile as her father stooped down so she could whisper her name over the sound of the parade.
The elder Pipkin said that he had come to the parade this year because his daughter wanted to see Santa, but had been a part of the parade many times from a different perspective.
"I'm usually in the parade with the volunteer fire department," he said, gripping the blankets covering Ansley to keep them in place. "It's definitely weird to be on this side of it. A lot less waving, that's for sure."
As the night darkened and the temperature dropped, the look of downtown Goldsboro began to change. What had begun as a cloudy, dreary day began to look more inviting as the downtown Christmas lights shone brighter in the darkness.