The weather was more toasty than frosty, but that didn’t stop the hundreds who lined Green Street Sunday evening for a 40-car Christmas parade.
And for many, like longtime friends Mary Beth Wood and Shanna Cronic of Gainesville, the annual Christmas on Green Street — which also features food, activities and stately homes opening to the public — has become a tradition for them and their families.
“Back in our day, we used to take (our children) on a hayride and go caroling,” Cronic said. “We didn’t have the parade.”
To secure a good viewing spot on the route, they have to arrive early.
“Absolutely,” Wood said. “This (event) has grown.”
Warm, dry weather marked the Dec. 2 event, which has been hit in past years by heavy rains and subfreezing temperatures.
People flooded Green Street long before the parade and mingled along sidewalks. Then the parade came, filled with fire and police vehicles, dancers, bands, antique cars — and of course, candy, flung by participants to spectators.
Santa Claus brought up the rear aboard his traditional fire truck.
“It’s a great community event,” said Briann Welborn, who, along with his wife Melissa, are local franchisees of Uncle Maddio’s Pizza. “It’s good sponsorship and it gives us a lot of good publicity, but it’s also our main community involvement every year.”
“This is a time when everybody comes together as a community for a Christmas event,” Melissa said. “All walks of life come together and enjoy (the event).”
They went through 36 boxes of extra-large pizza, handing out free slices. They also handed out cups of homemade chili.
“Usually, it’s really cold out here and the chili goes really good,” Briann said with a laugh.
There were other freebies, as well, including hot chocolate.
The Fudgery, which has corporate offices on Green Street, was giving out free samples and holding fudge-making demonstrations.
“It’s just nice to come here,” said Stephanie Flores, who brought her 4-year-old daughter Emelie.
Her friend Alexis Garcia had never been to Christmas on Green Street and accepted Flores’ invitation to go with her to the event. Garcia brought her daughter, Elizabeth, 1½.
“(Garcia) has a little one, and I really wanted her to enjoy it,” Flores said.
“It’s mostly about the tradition,” Flores said. “That’s the best part.”
For years, Christmas on Green Street had been organized by members of the Hall County Historical Society. This year, the group and its committees worked with Main Street Gainesville on the event.