EVANS, GA (WFXG) - The 54th Columbia County Christmas parade was delayed Sunday morning due to the wet weather. Everything stepped off at 3 p.m. and went until just before 5 p.m. when Santa Claus finished making his way down Belair Road. The Columbia County Merchants Association puts on the event every year. Steve Johnston, Parade Publicity Chairman, said, “This is their gift to the community so everyone can enjoy Christmas.” Despite the weather and time change, people came out ready to go.
Clay Colvin with the Martinez-Evans Little League Float said, “It’s been a challenge today, with the weather and being pushed back but the kids are still excited, and we just can’t wait to get it started.” Other folks in the parade agreed. Steven Herrington with the Ambucs Float said, “I’d rather be out here in good weather than in the rain.” Johnston was happy people understood. He said, “We don’t control the weather and you just deal with the hand that you’re dealt.”
While parade entries got lined up, parade goers got their front row seats. Some got out there as early as 1 p.m. This year, instead of sitting on the curb, people had to sit behind barricades put up by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. Major Sharif Chochol said, “The parade’s gotten busier and busier, and we’ve seen too many close calls with kids trying to go out and get candy.” Although everyone recognized that safety is always number one, there were mixed emotions about the barricades. Kelli Strickland, a Columbia County native, said, ""I do understand why they have the barricades, but it does take away that small town feel that we used to have." Strickland remembers when the parade was held on Washington Road in Martinez. She says the parade has changed a lot as the county has exploded with people.
Families new to the area, like Brian Pearson, his wife and two kids, loved the event, barricades and all. He said, “It’s awesome, because we can let our kids run up and down the street and not have to worry about them jumping in, getting in the way, getting hurt or anything like that. This was a great idea.” The barricades were funded by assets the sheriff’s office seized from criminals.
Folks got to enjoy everything from marching bands, to horses, to spin classes and BMX riders. Classic Christmas movies like the Grinch and the Polar Express were also featured in the parade. As the parade went on, families heard the fire truck sirens and saw the man of the hour make his debut. Pearson said, “They are really excited to see Santa.” While kids jumped for joy to see Old Saint Nick, some patrons were more excited to see their loved ones walk the street. Strickland said, “It is fun to see the kids that know each other run up and hand the candy, and seeing everyone you know in the band and wave is fun.”
As everything came to an end, deputies and county workers quickly picked up the barricades and opened Belair Road for drivers.
The event was proudly sponsored and broadcast by FOX 54.