The Valdosta Daily Times
Despite ominous rain clouds rolling in from the west, Valdostans lined North Patterson Street Saturday evening to receive a bit of Christmas cheer.
The Greater Valdosta Community Christmas Parade sponsored by the Ossipe Temple and the City of Valdosta kicked off at 5 p.m. as runners in the WinterFest 5K finished their trek from Winn Dixie on North Patterson St. to Bennie’s Alley in Downtown Valdosta.
A light, misting rain filled the air as children and their parents eagerly awaited the sights and sounds of the season.
“My children, Brock and Bryson, love Christmas,” said Brooks Platt. “He loves the lights and the sound.”
The theme of the parade was “Inside Santa’s Workshop,” and participants were asked to design creative holiday floats that exemplified that theme.
Beverly Richardson Blake with Valdosta State University was one of this year’s parade judges looking for the floats that captured the theme's spirit.
“We’re looking at creativity and those floats staying within the theme, ‘Inside Santa’s Workshop,’” said Blake. “We’re going to look at the creativity and see how much of the community is captured in the floats.”
The floats started their march from Woodrow Wilson Drive and ended at the downtown location of Bank of America, an almost three-mile stretch.
“I really wanted my kids to see the Lowndes High marching band,” said Anna Lopez.
Lopez brought her two sons, Anthony and Gabriel, to watch the floats and the Georgia Bridgemen after letting them give their Christmas gift wishes to Santa.
“Anthony asks for anything he sees a commercial for, but today, he asked Santa for a motorcycle,” said Lopez.
The jolly one was played this year for the 34th time by Ricky Plair. Santa and his carriage were sponsored by The Valdosta Daily Times.
The parade was the culmination of a day of holiday events in Downtown Valdosta, including Breakfast with Santa at the Bleu Cafe, pet adoptions on the courthouse lawn, children's activities, entertainment, a bazaar and bake sale at the First Presbyterian Church and a Camellia show at First United Methodist.
The Times will publish the names of the winning parade floats in Tuesday's paper.