A crowd of thousands celebrated along Market Place Boulevard during Saturday’s Cumming Christmas Parade & Festival.
“It rained a little bit, but that didn’t dampen the crowd,” said Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt. “I think it was the biggest parade we’ve ever had.”
About 6,000 people participated in the festival, which included a 5K run in the morning and the afternoon parade and tree lighting ceremony at Northside Hospital-Forsyth.
The procession along the busy retail corridor featured about 80 entrants, including floats, dance troupes and local dignitaries.
“I think there were more floats than there ever was,” Gravitt said. “It seemed like there was about 30 floats. A lot of people wanted to get out and be involved.”
James McCoy, president and chief executive officer of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said retail members overall were pleased with the parade traffic.
“The feedback we get from merchants is extremely positive, that it brings an awful lot of people to the area that may not have been there otherwise,” McCoy said.
He cited the business generated from runners in the Jingle Jog 5K. The fun run benefited Forsyth County Community Connection, a nonprofit organization that works with the community and local agencies to assist underserved children and families.
The race began at 9 a.m. in the Cumming Town Center shopping plaza on Market Place Boulevard and Buford Dam Road. The route traveled east down the Mary Alice Park Road loop, bringing runners back to the shopping plaza.
“Kirkland’s opened early and they did $3,000 in business before they would have normally opened because of the Jingle Jog,” McCoy said.
More than 2,000 people attended the Northside Hospital-Forsyth Festival of Lights, which Gravitt said got “the start of the Christmas season off right.”
The hospital’s 72-foot Christmas tree is adorned with more than 50,000 lights, each one representing someone whose life has been touched by cancer.
“This year’s Celebration of Lights was a huge success once again, despite the rain,” said Katherine Watson, hospital spokeswoman. “Performances from the Settles Bridge Elementary, Sawnee Ballet, South Forsyth High School and Synergy Cloggers, along with Santa Claus and all of the many other activities kept everyone in the Christmas spirit.
“Thank you to all who came out to support the hospital and our Cancer Care Program and we hope that everyone had a great time.”