Sunday afternoon on Green Street saw rain, cold temperatures and the arrival of Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, albeit 17 days before Christmas Day.
The Clauses’ arrival in the dreary weather helped usher in the holiday season and spread cheer to the Gainesville residents who braved the elements by taking part in the annual Christmas on Green Street celebration put on by the Hall County Historical Society.
The event featured a parade that kicked off the day’s festivities, as well as the Christmas tree lighting at the Academy Street and E.E. Butler Parkway intersection at the south end of Green Street.
Many of the businesses on Green Street opened their doors for the public to come eat cookies, drink hot chocolate and get into the Christmas spirit.
Carolers also serenaded those who roamed the street and entered the businesses.
Some children enjoyed getting their faces painted and having animal balloons made for them.
Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived on a fire truck instead of their traditional sleigh with reindeer, in the parade. They made their home for the evening at the Norton Agency building, where they greeted kids.
Some of the floats included a Grinch-themed one produced by 5 Star Auto Sales. It won first place in the float competition, according to Fox Gradin, parade float organizer.
Pro Touch Landscapes entered the Big Red Elephant, she said. The elephant was dressed in Christmas lights.
“It was better than expected because of the weather,” Gradin said. “A lot more people turned out to be in (the parade) than we thought.
“The crowd was a lot bigger than we thought it would be. We had a lot more people in the community wanting to participate in the parade. We hope to have a lot more in the community, business and groups, participate next year.”
At the Quinlan Visual Arts Center, kids rode a train around the parking lot. The train was brought in just for Sunday’s event.
Jack Frost was also there, showing his magic skills as people entered the building. While there, kids could make holiday crafts and ornaments like reindeer, Christmas trees and snowmen to take home.
“It has been a really good crowd,” said Amanda McClure, director of the arts center. “Everything is free. That’s a big thing for Christmas on Green Street. It’s a great event.”
McClure also said the variety in music that was featured throughout the street, as well as traditional holiday music, helped make it a great event.
The arts center was also a drop-off spot for people who wanted to donate to Toys for Tots.
Brad Garrett attended with kids from Gainesville Church of the Nazarene, and the arts center was one of the big hits for them, he said.
“The kids rode (the train) with me,” he said. “They wanted me to ride it because they look up to me. They are third- and fourth-graders, and this is pretty cool for them.”
Lisa Mattel attended to hear her daughter, Caroline, 9, sing with the Mount Vernon Exploratory Academy chorus group.
Mattel said hearing all the Christmas songs, hearing her daughter sing and the Christmas spirit made Sunday a fun day, even with the weather.
“Christmas is a time to celebrate Christ’s birth,” she said about what Christmas means to her. “Spend time with family, enjoy time together and remember what Christmas is all about, the birth of Christ.”
Caroline said she wanted an iPad for Christmas, while her sister, Anna, 12, said she wanted an iPhone 5S.
China Constantino said this was the first time she had attended, and she took her little brother, Jackson Nicely, 4, to enjoy the festivities, even if the weather wasn’t cooperating.
“I had actually never heard about it until this year, which is strange because I’ve always lived around here,” she said. “It’s very cold. I wish it wasn’t raining, but so far it’s cute.
“(Jackson) saw Santa. He didn’t really talk to him, and he got his face painted and hot chocolate and stuff. Christmas, can’t wait. The more the merrier. It brings the family together. Presents are always nice, too.”
Jackson said he wanted a Transformers toy for Christmas.