For many Garner residents, the town’s annual Christmas parade is a time for camaraderie and family.
For more than 30 years parents, grandparents, teenagers and children come with their lawn chairs wearing Christmas colors, and wave at those on the floats as they pass by.
“People come together to put their frustrations behind them for a couple of hours,” Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams said. “They sit and they watch the parade and listen to the music and for a couple of hours forget their troubles. It gives them time to enjoy enjoy enjoy a parade.”
Williams said this year people can expect to see him riding in a red 1965 Mustang convertible, as he does annually.
Patrick Hayes, who has lived on East Main Street for four years, said he has seen the parade every year except one.
“The streets are filled with people,” Hayes, 49, said. “I’m glad the town has a parade of its own.”
Last year’s parade brought nearly 6,000 people and this year is expected to do the same. Garner's annual Christmas Parade in historic downtown Garner will be held Saturday, Dec. 6 starting at 2 p.m.
He said it is a relief from Raleigh’s parade, which has drawn nearly 65,000 people yearly and tends to last for two and a half hours.
“It’s not as long and as hectic as the Raleigh parade,” Hayes said. “I just like seeing the kids happy. I have a little boy of my own and sometimes we’ll just sit on the porch and he loves watching the parade go by.”
Jill McAllister, the parade organizer, said 60 entries applied to be in Saturday’s parade, including local dance troops, church choirs, the town council, high school bands, beauty queens, local singers and finally Santa Claus.
“It’s a great way to get people to the downtown area,” McAllister said. “It’s preceded the night before by our Christmas tree lighting. It’s a wonderful way for local businesses and citizens to take part and reach out into the community.”
Roddrick Henry, the owner of Alpha Barber Shop on East Main Street, says he’s seen the Christmas Parade go by every year for the past 28 years. Henry, 58, said the only change has been more people have come – relative to the town growing – and the parade has been shorter, in regard to time. He said the parade doesn’t necessarily bring a lot of business but it adds exposure to his shop.
“Different people who didn’t know, will know there’s a barbershop here when they come to the parade,” Henry said.
On Dec. 5 community members will kick off the Christmas festivities by lighting the Christmas tree during Light Up Main.