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Spirits, temps run high for 18th annual parade
Under warm and sunny skies, spectators get ready Saturday for the Richmond Hill Down Home Country Christmas parade as the first of the procession gets rolling. - photo by By Magdalena Bresson

Parade contest winners

Commercial business float
First: Ga. Skin and Cancer Clinic
Second: Reaching Milestones
Third: DeVillaes Lawn Care
Fourth: Christmas Dress Horses

Nonprofit float
First: Relay For Life
Second: Richmond Hill Area Tennis
Third: Richmond Hill Senior Center

“Judges Award” – Best in Show: South Bryan Cheerleaders

Mayor’s Choice Award: New Beginnings Community Church

Best Use of Theme: Cub Scout Pack 400

Performing groups
First: South Bryan Cheerleaders
Second: Elite Martial Arts
Third: Daughtry ATA Martial Arts

Youth groups
First: Cub Scout Pack 400
Second: Richmond Hill Girl Scouts Service Unit
Third: Boy Scout Troop and Pack 486

School band:
First: RHHS Marching Wildcats
Second: Windsor Forest High School Band
Third: Johnson High School Band

It was an unseasonably warm Saturday morning on the day of the 18th annual Richmond Hill Christmas parade, but that didn’t stop thousands of people from lining Ford Avenue and other streets along the parade route in the hopes of catching an unblocked view of the procession.

And while more people were drinking ice water than hot cocoa, parade coordinator Nancy Frye said she could see the spirit of the holidays in just about everyone who turned out.

“I think a lot of people didn’t even notice how hot it was because they were too busy thinking it was Christmas and 50 degrees,” Frye said.

About 78 floats took part in the parade, which, according to Frye, is about on par with previous years. This year, however, rang in the holiday season with a “Down Home country Christmas” theme.

Grand Marshall Carlton Gill, former chairman of the Bryan County Board of Commissioners, led the floats, marching bands and JROTC cadets down the streets, followed by the Alee Temple Oriental Band.

Elizabeth Moxley and Suzanna Moxley of Statesboro arrived early and secured a spot on the corner of Ford Avenue and Richard R. Davis Drive near City Hall. Decked in fuzzy reindeer antlers, the duo said they were excited to be in town for the parade.

“We didn’t even know it was going on,” Elizabeth Moxely said. “We we’re just in town visiting our friend and decided to come and see it.”

The Moxleys were just two spectators in a sea of red and green. Frye couldn’t say exactly how many people turned out for the 18th Christmas parade, but it was well over 1,000, she said.

“One of the grand marshals was passing out flags during the parade. We gave him 1100 and he passed out all of them and didn’t even come close to giving a flag to every person,” Frye said.

According to tradition, judges picked winners from a variety of “best float” categories, including “best nonprofit,” “mayor’s choice” and “best performing group.”

For Frye, the best part of the parade was being able to take part in the planning.

“This parade is bittersweet for me because it will be my last year on the committee,” Frye said. “I’ve been a coordinator for 17 years and I can’t promise that in the future I won’t pop my head in and help with some of the planning.”

The holiday festivities continue in Richmond Hill on Saturday, when the city and the Richmond Hill-Bryan County Chamber of Commerce will host the Christmas Stroll and Holiday Market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at J.F. Gregory Park.

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