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Parade ushers in Christmas season
Families line retail corridor to see Santa, floats
The Wilsons, from left, Jen, Mercedes, 4, and Ethan, 8, as well as Olivia Skalleberger, 6, drink hot cocoa as they try and stay warm before the Cumming Christmas Parade gets started Saturday. - photo by Crystal Ledford

2013 Cumming Christmas Parade winners

* Best overall — Forsyth County Family YMCA

* Most creative — Humane Society of Forsyth County

* Most original — Cub Scout Pack 62

* Best use of Christmas theme — Sawnee Ballet

* Judges Award — 116thGeorgia Army National Guard Band and Color Guard


-- Source: Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce

Amanda McCullough snuggled under a couple of pink blankets with daughters Ava, 1, and Emma, 3, on Saturday as they waited in lawn chairs.

Dad Brad McCullough stood watch along Market Place Boulevard for the first signs of the annual Cumming Christmas Parade.

“We’ve lived in Cumming for about seven years, but this is the first time we’ve made it to the parade,” he said.

“We finally said, ‘You know, we’re going to come to this.’ Because the time has never worked out for us before, but this year it did, so we took advantage of the opportunity.”

It’s likely the McCulloughs weren’t the only family taking advantage of the parade’s new morning time slot.

Previously, the Saturday event had been held in the afternoon just prior to the Northside Hospital-Forsyth Celebration of Lights.

This year, that event was shifted to Friday night and parade organizers decided to move the parade to 10:30 a.m. in an effort to encourage more people to stick around for lunch and shopping along the bustling retail corridor.

Thousands lined Market Place on Saturday despite chilly temperatures near 45 degrees and strong winds that made it feel much colder.

The Wilson family enjoyed hot cocoa before the parade’s start and almost every child along the route was bundled up in a heavy coat and mittens, many of which came off when the candy started being thrown from the floats.

Thankfully, the rain showers that had been predicted earlier in the week were a no-show for the holiday procession.

“The weather held out and it was a great day,” said Anna Barlow, director of tourism for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, one of the organizers of the parade.

The event featured about 60 floats from various churches, civic groups, schools and businesses. Many other organizations took part on foot.

Of course, the big man from the North Pole made a visit to officially kick off the Christmas season.

“[Santa is] who they really want to see,” said Brad McCullough of his two young daughters.

Barlow said it seemed everyone enjoyed the festivities.

“I think it was a fabulous parade,” she said, noting that while she didn’t have a count on how many people attended, it seemed the change in time didn’t impact numbers much if at all.

“I’m going to say it was pretty comparable to the past couple of years.”

She also thanked Cumming police for the department’s help with logistics.

“They did a great job in directing traffic and keeping everybody safe and sound,” she said.