Organizers of the Middle Georgia Christmas Parade proved Sunday that Rudolph was right: there’s no reason a little bad weather has to interfere with a Christmas tradition.
It’s too bad that so many other Maconites missed that lesson. Despite a rainy prelude, the parade went on as scheduled, although few people showed up to see it.
As rain fell Sunday in the morning and early afternoon, several people called Macon police to ask if the parade had been canceled. The answer was no, but apparently many people canceled their plans to attend.
The rain stopped about 1 p.m. By the time the parade started two hours later the sky was overcast, the air was calm and the temperature was in the high 40s. Sparse pockets of spectators watched from the sidewalks on Cherry Street, where a few people layered newspapers on the curb so they could sit without getting their bottoms wet. Even fewer people watched on Mulberry Street as the parade made its way back to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
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“The crowds today are scarce,” said LaTravius Smith, interim director of the Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency. Volunteers from her agency helped manage the traffic in the parade area. “My best guess is that it’s the weather,” she said.
Parade Chairman John Swank said many scheduled participants, including every public high school marching band in the county, called Sunday morning to cancel because of the rain.
“We had about half the units we usually have,” Swank said. “But we had a good parade. It looked good on TV.”
Edwin Williams didn’t let a chance of rain keep him and his drum corps from their first parade. This year, the 20-year-old Williams organized Street Percussion Entertainment, a teen ensemble designed to create gut-thumping rhythms and “to keep me out of trouble and them out of trouble.”
“We’re Street Percussion, we play in any weather,” said Williams, who plays a snare drum with the group.
Other spectacles in the parade included a Great Dane wearing a flouncy red collar, a “Princess and the Frog” float and a Geico float complete with cavemen and gecko. Riders on the Georgia State Fair float threw kazoos to spectators. Safety rules prevented float riders from throwing candy as in years past, but when Santa’s float brought up the rear of the parade his helpers handed out Dubble Bubble gum from buckets.
“It looks nice,” said Arthur Patterson, who had brought his 5-year-old grandson Jaden Barker to the parade, “The weather could be better, but, thank God, we’re here. You’ve got to make do with what you’ve got.”
Victoria Howard came to the parade with three of her children, ages 7 to 13.
“We started not to come, but then we saw the rain slacked up,” she said. “It’s something to do.”