MOUNT GILEAD — The mild weather and promise of a parade filled Main Street sidewalks and shops Friday evening with families, carolers and shoppers.
The atmosphere was joyful as friends called out greetings and visited in restaurants and stores as they waited for the parade. After a year without the Christmas parade, the excitement was reflected in lots of smiles and laughter.
New this year was the chocolate bar at Gilead Fitness. Volunteers Rhonda and Pete Dettra welcomed a long line that waited for a cup of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream or marshmallows.
The Village Gathering Place had a steady stream of visitors checking out vendors’ handcrafted jewelry, candles, jams, books and other gift items.
The Sauce Guys ran out of pork, beef, baked beans and cornbread just before the parade began at 7 p.m. They were sorry to disappoint customers, but were happy to see the turnout for the parade.
People gathered around the Christmas tree on the square as carolers sang and Pastor Jeff Canankamp gave a Christmas prayer. Children gazed in wonder at the bright lights and were excited to greet Santa.
The crowd grew to be three or four deep on the sidewalks as dads hoisted kids onto their shoulders to view the parade.
Band members from several county high schools carried a giant American flag to open the parade with the honor guard. One of the first floats was “In Loving Memory of Shelley Planey,” the former Chamber of Commerce Director who passed away this year.