Santa Claus received a warm welcome Sunday at the annual Greeneville Christmas Parade, and not just because of unseasonably mild temperatures.
Hundreds of spectators along the Main Street parade route waited patiently for his arrival. Instead of a sleigh, Santa came to town on top of a Greeneville Fire Department truck, tossing out handfuls of candy to excited children along the way.
Four-year-old Karlee Anders, standing with her family on Main Street, likes the candy but looked forward to the parade for another reason.
“Santa Claus,” Karlee said.
Brother Andrew Anders, 14, enjoyed seeing the large crowd of people who took advantage of the balmy weather to line the parade route.
“It’s bringing the community together,” he said.
“It’s a gorgeous day,” added grandmother Karen Harrison.
The big turnout for the parade brought days of yore to the mind of John McMillan, who was there with his wife Eula. The couple rode to the parade in style from the Caney Branch community in McMillan’s classic 1955 Chevrolet sedan.
“This is what (downtown) used to be like 50 or 60 years ago,” McMillan said of the crowds.
The parade featured something for everyone who loves the holiday season. Santa Claus was the featured attraction, but children and adults also got to enjoy the candy thrown their way, cheer on hometown heroes like Greeneville High School’s state champion football and baseball teams, tap their feet to marching bands playing holiday favorites, admire shiny fire trucks from local departments and generally immerse themselves in the Christmas spirit.
Sullivan Rogers, 7, was awaiting Santa Claus near the Greene County Courthouse with his mother Emily Rogers and his 5-year-old sister, Mayvee.
“I like getting all the great candy,” Sullivan said.
“(Mayvee) likes the cheerleaders,” her mother said.
Organizers outdid themselves for the 2018 version of the Greeneville Christmas Parade. This year’s theme was “Silver Bells, It’s Christmas Time in the City.”
As the fire truck carrying the guest of honor approached, excited squeals of small children echoed through the crowd. Kids drew closer to the street.
“Santa’s coming,” one adult loudly advised.
“Get ready for him,” another intoned.
The children didn’t need much coaching, dashing after the Greeneville fire truck Santa rode to shout greetings and scoop up candy.
Many families had smaller children looking forward to seeing their older brothers and sisters marching with their school bands, with sports teams or on church floats passing by.
“Our kids are aways in it. We have two girls who are cheerleaders,” Bobbie Martha said.
Family, fellowship and the sense of community in Greene County is what makes the holiday season so special, several spectators agreed.
“It’s beautiful this year. It’s exciting to watch all these people. The crowd just gets bigger and bigger,” John McMillan said.
Parade participants included high school bands, student organizations, youth sports teams, area fire departments, service clubs, Scouting groups, military veterans, elected representatives and local businesses. Each group put its own special spin on Christmas in Greene County.
About 120 parade entries participated in Sunday’s event. The parade is coordinated by the Exchange Club of Greeneville and the Greene County Partnership. The parade is a project of the Partnership.