Originally created 12/15/03

Parade warms up crowd

To brave the cold at Sunday's Christmas Fantasy Parade, thousands did as Linda Daniels did, bundling up in a coat and hat.

In the meantime, Ms. Daniels also hoisted her 4-year-old grandson Qua'Taj and his friend Gardenia Taylor onto the roof of her car and wrapped them in a blanket so they could see the floats from a warm, high spot.

"We do this every year," she said, referring to the parade.

This year's 90-minute parade drew a large crowd despite near-freezing temperatures and gray skies. Pockets of spectators gathered along Broad Street to experience the festivities, some even standing underneath sheltered areas in case of rain.

Augusta Mayor Bob Young, Miss Georgia Andrea Bailey and the Academy of Richmond County and Cross Creek High School marching bands were among those making early appearances.

The Augusta-Richmond County Public Library's bookmobile drove through the streets wishing onlookers "Seasons Readings;" a group from Rhythm and Class Cloggers clogged in sync to the holiday tune Winter Wonderland; and a number of ROTC units marched.

One of the more unusual floats in the parade belonged to the Graystone Ranch Traveling petting zoo, which transformed a bus into Noah's ark, with animals riding inside.

Also Sunday afternoon, the Augusta Common played host to the first Holidayfest Family Celebration. Carolers provided entertainment onstage, and attendees could try their hand at carnival games, take amusement park-style rides or purchase boiled peanuts and funnel cakes.

Cynthia Westbury attended with two of her children and her friend's son Aaron Sousa, 10, who tried to win at a ball-toss game.

"We're just trying to get into the Christmas spirit," she said.

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.


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