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Sweet treats, warm hearts send Christmas spirits soaring at Flowery Branch, Lula parades
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Santa waves to attendees of the seventh annual Flowery Branch Christmas Tree Lighting and Rock ‘n’ Stroll Parade Saturday in downtown Flowery Branch. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Dreary weather didn’t put a damper on Christmas spirits during Flowery Branch and Lula’s Christmas parades Saturday.

Santa Claus made an appearance at both events. Children at the Christmas in Lula parade and festival were able to write letters to the jolly man in the North Pole.

Brantley Wade, 3, asked for two monster trucks and a Transformers figurine, among other toys. The Lula boy was one of many children that placed their letters inside the decorative mailbox at the Lula Post Office’s booth. All children who gave their addresses will receive a letter back from Santa.

And while most children them the Clauses, Brianna Mauldin calls them Grandma and Grandpa.

Mauldin came to see her relatives portraying Santa and Mrs. Claus in Flowery Branch’s seventh annual Flowery Branch Christmas Tree Lighting and Rock ‘n’ Stroll Parade.

Flowery Branch High School’s marching band headed the parade. The high schoolers strutted down the street decked out in Santa hats with jingle bells dangling off the ends. The band was led by a Flowery Branch police truck and a Flowery Branch firetruck separated them from the rest of the parade.

Fused Dance Center and the Spout Springs Elementary School’s tumbling cluster group danced up and down the parade’s route.

A float with a man dressed like Jesus came after, a group of Girl Scouts followed, and a few cars full of Flowery Branch Junior Falcon cheerleaders and football players cruised behind. Santa’s hayride sleigh came last, pulled by a tractor.

Candy was thrown from the floats to the joy of the children watching the parade.

“My favorite part of the parade was the candy,” 4-year-old Annie Dokter said. Her favorite: Tootsie Rolls.

Annie and her family, which includes mom Beth, dad Matt, brother Harry, 7, and sister Emmie, 8, are all from Flowery Branch and attending their first Christmas parade.

“We had fun,” Beth Dokter said.

Zoie Davenport, 7, and her sister Sadie Davenport, 5, also had fun diving for candy at the parade. They came with mom Ashley Cooper and her sister Nadia Bouzas to support Cooper’s son, one of the football players in the parade.

Jeri Gilbert was also at Flowery Branch’s parade to support a loved one. She is the girlfriend of West Hall High School soccer coach Tyler Esson. The soccer team sold burgers and hot dogs, as well as raffle tickets for an XBOX video game console.

“We just came to support him,” Gilbert said. His whole family also came, buying up raffle tickets and looking around at the vendors.

At the Lula parade, most of the vendors gave away goods for free. Springfield Missionary Baptist Church in Lula made over 300 small containers of banana pudding to pass out, all of them gone in the first hour. Minister Deborah Jones, wife of the Rev. Arthur W. Jones, said that six or seven women spent three hours preparing the puddings.

They also handed out four boxes worth of candy, including peppermint sticks and marshmallow treats.

The church wasn’t the only booth handing out baked items. Belton Baptist Church passed out chocolate oatmeal cookies and brownies as well as cider doughnuts and apple fritters from Jaemor Farms.

The Main Street Gospel church group also passed out free baked goods, from pieces of pie to cupcakes and more. The doughnuts went the quickest.

They also provided free hot cocoa and hot cider.

“We’ve been doing this for the past three years,” Pete Turpin, member of Main Street Gospel and Lula resident, said.

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