WARNER ROBINS --
Popular NBC weatherman Al Roker didnt make it as planned to serve as grand marshal of the Warner Robins Christmas Parade on Saturday, but his wife Deborah Roberts did, and that might have been more important to a lot of people.
Roberts is an ABC reporter and a Perry native. Her mother still lives in Perry, and Roberts visits her often.
This is kind of a regular thing coming back to Georgia, but never this special, she said after the parade. I saw friends along the route which is great ... old friends I hadnt seen in a while, so its like a high school reunion.
She said Roker couldnt make it due to a little bit of a family conflict.
Overcast skies threatened rain, but the weather held for the 140 entries in the parade.
Carl Briggs said he has attended the parade just about every year since he moved to Warner Robins 21 years ago.
Its an opportunity to see the folks in a different light in the city, he said. Everybody seems to be in the spirit of the holiday and I think this is what kicks it off. Black Friday doesnt do it. This is what does.
Shawn Hill, owner of Party Man Productions, a Warner Robins deejay business, rode his purple van in the parade for the third year. He said attendance seemed to be down a little but there was still a good crowd all along the route, which went down Watson Boulevard from Houston Road and ended at City Hall.
About an hour after the parade ended, Byrons Christmas parade began. Held on a two-lane street through downtown, it was a more intimate affair. A tradition there is that most of the participants toss candy to children along the route, so much so that many of the kids bring bags to collect the loot.
Bridgitte Forward was there with her two sons, Straight and Press. They didnt have bags but their pockets were bulging with candy. They just moved to Perry two years ago and have been to the parade both years.
I enjoy it, she said. Its hometown people and you get to see everybody you dont see throughout the year,
State Rep. Robert Dickey, R-Musella, drove his green 1949 Cadillac in the Warner Robins and Byron parades. He said after the Byron parade he was headed to Roberta for the parade there.
Perry, Fort Valley and Centerville also had Christmas parades planned for Saturday. The Middle Georgia Christmas Parade begins at 3 p.m. Sunday in Macon at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Cherry Street.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.