Perched aloft several newspaper racks at least 3 feet above the other spectators, Joey Spradley and his family had a perfect view of Augusta's annual Christmas parade Sunday as it meandered down Broad Street.
``We've been coming for the last five years, and it's always my job to find a place'' to stand, said Mr. Spradley, who came from Gloverville with his wife Paula and two sons Joey Jr., 9, and Justin, 6, to watch the festive march downtown.
Thousands of people, some wearing red Santa caps and others huddled under blankets, lined Broad Street for the city's parade. Police cars started the two-hour parade, and Santa Claus brought up the rear. In between came beauty queens, a camel, high school bands and drill teams, a couple of walking Coca-Cola bottles, two crash test dummies, clowns, Shriners riding in tiny funny cars and dozens of floats.
``They're a lot of fun, and I tell you, these kids really enjoy them,'' said Billy Harper, president of the Thomson Shriner's Club, who rode in the parade in a miniature Jeep.
The Shriners' cars - and their playful antics - were popular among spectators, but Santa was the star of the night.
``I'm waiting for Santa Claus,'' said 6-year-old Clea Childress of Thomson, snuggled under blankets with her brother Jake, 3. ``I'm going to wave to him.''
A few blocks down, 3-year-old Zana Fryer and her grandmother, Lottie Mae Hall, also waited hours for the jolly fat man.
They stayed in the spirit by wearing red Santa caps and yelling ``Merry Christmas'' to everyone who passed.
``It looks more like Christmas, as the song says,'' said Ms. Hall, 67, taking in the decorations, floats and festive clothing spectators wore.
While younger children anticipated Saint Nick, 17-year-old Ed Brown of North Augusta and his teen-age friends gathered in front of NationsBank, near the Seventh Street intersection, waiting for something else.
They came to the Christmas parade to admire the high school cheerleaders in their flouncy skirts and dancers in their sequined, body-hugging outfits, Ed said.
But the parade was indeed a time for parents and children of all ages.
After an evening at the ballet at the Imperial Theatre, Janet Kirkey, 55, and her mother, Emma Faircloth, 77, huddled together on Broad Street, near the theater.
``This is our culture weekend,'' said Mrs. Faircloth, who moved here a year ago from Fayetteville, N.C. ``This is our second childhood.`