With abundant sunshine, the weather was way too warm for snow, but gusty winds sent flurries of golden ginkgo leaves down on the crowds Sunday at the 2019 Aiken Jaycees Christmas Parade.
Parade-goers lined Park Avenue and Laurens Street to usher in the holiday season, get into the Christmas spirit and see Santa waving to children young and old atop a fire engine from Aiken Public Safety.
Rengga Lengyel, who is from Indonesia, celebrated his first time in America and his first Christmas with his wife, Glen, who originally is from Aiken, and their daughter, Ren, 1.
“I'm excited to go to the parade and spend my first Christmas with my family,” Rengga said.
“What better way to welcome the holiday than a Christmas parade,” Glen said.
Ren was hoping to tell Santa, the parade's guest of honor, her Christmas wish.
“She's walking and running and climbing, so we're hoping Santa will bring her a little climbing set,” her mom said.
Daphne Gibson and Mark Gibson from Aiken had a front-row seat for the parade near the intersection of Laurens Street and Richland Avenue.
“We're from Aiken. This is our hometown, and we love parades,” said Mark Gibson, who is the pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church.
“It's just a tradition every year. Every year, we do it,” his wife said.
Elaine Hinson and Ole Olson, who were wearing sparkling reindeer antlers in green and red, from Aiken were at the parade on a date.
“Well, kinda, sorta,” Olson said. “She brought me out today.”
Hinson said she had not been to the parade in a while.
“It's just fun – like being a teenager again,” she said.
Both were waiting for Santa's arrival.
“Santa, that's it,” Olson said. “I'm a happy camper.”
More than 100 units participated in the parade. Decorated with Christmas wreaths and red bows, classic cars, many with rumble seats, captured perfectly the parade's theme, “Ushering in the Roaring '20s.” Dancers from the Aiken Civic Ballet previewed their upcoming performance of the holiday classic “The Nutcracker.” And the Southern Thunder Cloggers, dancing in the back of a flatbed truck, gave the parade a down-home feel.
Local politicians, including Gary Bunker, the chairman of the Aiken County Council, and Lessie Price, from Aiken City Council, waved to the crowd from the back of convertibles.
Proceeds from the parade will benefit Jaycee Camp Hope for children and adults who have developmental disabilities.
The Christmas celebration will continue for the next couple of weekends with parades scheduled in Aiken and Edgefield counties as follows:
• Wagener's Hometown Holiday Christmas Parade – Saturday, Dec. 7, at 11 a.m. on Main Street S. in Wagener, beginning at Busbee/Corbett elementary and middle schools and ending at Wagener-Salley High School.
• GVW Christmas Parade – The GVW Fire Department will sponsor this event Saturday, Dec. 7, at 3 p.m. in downtown Graniteville. The parade will begin in the Leavelle McCampbell Middle School parking lot and proceed down Highway 191 to the traffic light at Highway 421 in Warrenville. For more information, call 803-439-6140.
• New Ellenton Christmas Parade – Saturday, Dec. 7, at noon. The parade will begin on Main Street in New Ellenton in front of Bi-Lo and end at St. Paul United Methodist Church.
• Jackson Christmas Parade – Sponsored by the Town of Jackson on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. The parade route will begin behind Jackson Middle School and proceed down Highway 125. For more information, call the Jackson Municipal Complex at 803-471-2228.
• North Augusta Lions Club 2019 Christmas Parade – Sunday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m. on Georgia Avenue from Martintown Road to Buena Vista Avenue. The theme is "All I Want For Christmas Is…." For more information, call 803-624-2487.
• Town of Windsor Christmas Parade – Sunday, Dec. 8, from 3 to 4 p.m. near First Baptist Church on Cedar Road. For more information, call 803-270-7003.
• Edgefield Christmas Parade – Sunday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m. in downtown Edgefield. For more information, call Edgefield Town Hall at 803-637-4014.
• Midland Valley Christmas Parade – Saturday, Dec. 14, at 3 p.m., starting at Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle School, located at 29 Lions Trail in Warrenville. The parade will proceed down Augusta Highway to Security Federal Bank. For more information, call the Town of Burnettown at 803-593-2676.
• Hoofbeats and Christmas Carols Parade – Saturday, Dec. 21, at 2 p.m. on Laurens Street in downtown Aiken. The parade will begin at Trinity Lutheran Retirement Home, continue south along Laurens Street, wind throughout downtown Aiken and stop in front of the historic Willcox Hotel.