THOMASVILLE -- With hundreds gathered along the sidewalks of Downtown Thomasville, the annual Christmas Parade came through Monday evening, putting everyone in the holiday spirit.

The Thomasville High School JROTC led the parade, followed by the Thomasville mayor, city council, and Thomas County commissioners aboard fire engines. Then came the Thomasville High School Marching Band, decked out in Santa hats and rousing onlookers with holiday favorites like "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

Little tumblers from the YMCA delighted the crowd, flipping and somersaulting their way down Broad Street. "Ah-ha" one junior gymnast shouted after finishing a series of flips. She was rewarded by a round of applause from both sides of the street.

While watching the parade, some parents coached their children on the art of collecting parade candy.

"They're fixin' to flip ya'll out some candy, now. Ya'll get ready," one father said.

Unfortunately, candy was sparse this year. However, the children did manage to come away with a few "Army of One" decals distributed by local recruiters.

"Hi, GI Joe," one of them said as a man in uniform walked by.

A class of Taekwondo students jump-kicked their way across Jefferson Street, drawing cheers with each maneuver. A float loaded with ballerinas inspired many "oohs" and "aahs" as the South Georgia Ballet's "Nutcracker" display went by.

The Miss Old South Day court -- Heaven Griffin, Melissa Gurley, Jami Lyn Carr and Holli Thompson -- were crowd favorites as well. As one float went by, a couple recognized their grandchildren and began waving proudly. "Ya'll hold on, now," they instructed.

There were some truly original floats in this year's parade, such as the AWOL paint gun entry in which two competitors did battle on opposite ends of a snowman and a Christmas tree.

The Rose City Red Hatters rode through in a cart, backed up by the Central Middle School Band belting out their rendition of "Jingle Bells." Congressman Sanford Bishop made the scene in a Fairlane convertible, followed by the lovely young ladies of The Firm dance troupe.

"It's wonderful. Everything's going good," said Sharonda Wilson, who was watching the parade in front of the courthouse. "There is something for everyone, for young and old."

Wilson said her favorite entry was the MacIntyre Park Middle School Band.

Auhazia Smith, who watched the parade with her mother, Vickie Smith, and brother, Trevez Johnson, admired the Thomas County Central Marching Band as it thundered by.

"I like the drums," she said. "And the horses, and..."

She stopped mid-sentence while a chubby fellow in red and white rode by.

"And Santa Claus," she exclaimed as the crowd dispersed behind the parade. "I'm fixin' to go get him! He's going to get me a car."

To contact reporter Brewer Turley, call (229) 226-2400, ext. 226.

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