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Greenville Christmas parade one of the city’s biggest

Marie Owens and daughter Sydney pause to pose before the parade. Sydney marched in the parade with her fellow Greenville High cheerleaders.

Marie Owens and daughter Sydney pause to pose before the parade. Sydney marched in the parade with her fellow Greenville High cheerleaders.

It was a first night of December you would definitely want to remember. From the long line of excited kids stretching across Confederate Park to see Santa in his sleigh, to the long line of parade entries making their way down Commerce Street: the 2016 edition of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Parade drew throngs of spectators ready to enjoy some holiday magic.

Emcees Kyle Haynes and David Norrell of Q-94 provided the color commentary, letting attendees awaiting the parade’s start know they were in for a really big treat. The parade proved to be one of the largest ever held in the city, with 74 entries including 22 floats, two bands (Greenville High and Georgiana High) and no less than three grand marshals for this year’s event.

Greenville City Clerk Sue Arnold, Police Chief Lonzo Ingram and Fire Chief Chad Phillips, all retiring this month after many years of service to the city, shared the honor this year of leading the parade.

Beforehand, a group of carolers led by Brad Jones strolled up and down the street serenading folks with holiday tunes—a first for the event, said Norrell.

Marching and walking units, floats and a variety of vehicles came from across the county and beyond, including pony car enthusiasts from a Montgomery Mustang club, impressive “hogs” courtesy of the Southern Cruisers motorcyle group and even a child-sized helicopter piloted by Olaf from “Frozen” (on a float entered by Life Flight).

Reflecting the theme “A Magical Toy Christmas,” giant red Radio Flyer wagons and life-sized wind-up cars appeared on the parade route, along with representations of Santa’s workshop and the whimsical creatures from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and its Island of Misfit Toys.

“I do not envy the task set before these ladies,” Norrell remarked concerning the judges on the review stand. In the end, Romeo 3’s Collision Center’s impressive display of dazzlingly lit conveyances took first place in the Vehicle Division, with State Farm Agent Abbie Gardner Ballew earning second place honors, and Crowne Health Care of Greenville taking third place.

In the Float Division, Lifeline Church won first place honors, with second place going to LifeFlight and third place, a tie between Ozark Materials and Southside Baptist Church.

GACOC director Francine Wasden’s face was wreathed in smiles as Santa passed by on the big red fire truck, bringing the parade to a close. “I just have to say—fabulous. It was fabulous,” Wasden said.

“The weather was great. I am thrilled that it all went so well.”