Spirit of the Christmas season: Combined parade draws enthusiastic crowd Saturday

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The Historic Downtown Wilson Christmas Parade joined with the Sudan Shriners’ annual Ceremonial Parade to form nearly three hours of marching, dancing and singing Saturday.

Thousands turned out under bright blue skies and autumn leaves to join in the festivities.

“It’s nice out here,” said Lakessia Holiday of Wilson. “I got on a Christmas sweater on for the Christmas parade.”

Holiday came out to see her children in the procession.

“There probably would be less people if it was rainy and cold,” said Robert Whitley of Lucama. “It’s nice today, very nice in the 50s.”

Shriners Potentate Edin “Teeny” Jones of Wilson rode through downtown in a convertible before stepping out with other dignitaries at the reviewing stand at the corner of Tarboro and Nash streets.

Shriners from all across the state brought about 30 parade units to Wilson to kick off the processional, which was the largest Shriners parade in the state for 2018.

“We liked the Shriners the best,” said Kim Rathbun of Greenville, who came with her son. “It was very long and it was the most well-entered parade ever.”

Shriners in a variety of motorized vehicles performed in unison along the parade route.

Vendors sold giant inflatable candy canes along with squealing trumpets that were quite popular, with their high-pitched horn sound.

Bowman Smith was among those tooting away.

“I paid somebody $5 to buy it. I think I’d pay somebody $10 to take it away,” joked his mother, Kesha Jon of the Rock Ridge community.

Jimmie Pender of Wilson came out to see friends marching and waving from the floats.

“It’s been lovely,” Pender said. “It is the best one I have seen so far.”

Esther Coe of Wilson leaned against the hood of a car a couple rows back from the street where children gathered to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus.

“I think this is marvelous,” Coe said. “This is the best parade I have seen in quite a while. I worked for BB&T for 31 years and I’m telling you, this is tops here. Somebody put some work into this. For many years, we had only three bands. Now look at what we have today.”

Christmas Parade Photos

Turn to page 7A to see more photos from Saturday’s combined downtown Wilson Christmas parade and Sudan Shriners parade.