Festivities held throughout the county provided a strong dose of holiday cheer for many local residents and tourists Saturday.
A crowd started to gather well before 2 p.m. along Main Street in Dobson, as folks got into good Christmas parade viewing — and candy grabbing — positions.
With just the slightest nip in the air on the clear, sunshine filled day, Gloria Calloway, of Dobson, recalled just a few years ago watching the parade in a blizzard.
“It was a total whiteout,” said Calloway, who attends the parade every year with a couple of vans full of work friends.
But though the weather was not quite wintery, there was no doubt what season it was once the parade began.
Led by the Surry Central High School marching band, Santa hats, reindeer antlers and all kinds of red, green, silver and gold sparkly magic decorated the people and things in the parade, which flowed down the street for nearly an hour.
Dale Easter had one participant on his mind while he watched: “Santa Claus!” said the youngster.
“I never saw Santa at the end before,” Dale Easter said.
While the parade flowed for nearly an hour, Miranda Easter wished those riding past a “Merry Christmas!”
A group of teenagers from North Surry High School laughed and jostled each other, waving at friends who rode by in the parade.
“I’m short enough to get candy,” Ashlee Walsh said.
In keeping with the kids of all ages theme, former South Surry firefighter Mark Childress said his favorite part of the parade is always the fire trucks.
“Every year I used to come back for the parade and help them out,” said Childress, who recently moved back to Mount Airy after living out of state for more than a decade.
“This is my first one in a while.”
Along with the high school marching bands, floats from local churches, organizations and business, the parade was flush with every form of transportation possible, and then some: police cars, sheriff’s cars, sheriff’s trucks, a classic sheriff’s squad car, a classic firetrucks, golf carts, ATVs, the Surry Mini Truckers, a bucket train, a fleet of classic John Deere tractors, motorcycles, horses, and even a llama pulling a cart.
The star of the show, Santa Claus, came near the end of the parade, riding high in the bucket of a cherry picker, waving and throwing candy to adoring fans of all ages below.
More Santa sightings
Across the county in Mount Airy, Spring McClure and her family had traveled from Hillsboro for the weekend to experience the Downtown Holiday Art Walk and free admission at the Mount Airy Regional Museum, where Santa and Mrs. Claus had also stopped by that afternoon.
McClure said her three-year-old daughter, Zora McClure, caught a glimpse of Santa when they first walked past.
“She said, ‘I think I saw Santa,’” Spring McClure said. “So when we got up there it was very exciting.”
The family of four enjoyed their first visit to the museum, which also featured Art Walk artists and performances by local historians, George Smith and MAUI (Mount Airy Ukulele Invasion), Alicia Merritt with the Millennium Charter Academy choral students and Jack Holt with Mel Cummings.
“We had a wonderful day,” McClure said.
Matt Edwards, executive director of the museum, said “we’re always happy to do this event. It’s a lot of fun.”
More than 300 people made their way to the museum for the open house.
“It’s one of the few times of the year people can get in for free,” Edwards said. “It’s kind of our gift to the community.”
Joy Fowler, an author who lived in Mount Airy as a child, was an Art Walk artist at the museum with copies of her latest work, Miami of the Mountain.
“The town looks beautiful,” she said. “It’s my hometown and I love it. It’s a celebration just being back here.”
While bringing joy to the little ones, Santa and Mrs. Claus (a.k.a. Bill and Patty Pingsley) had a good time too.
“It’s just so much fun,” Patty Pingsley said. “The kids are so cute.”
Bill Pingsley said one cute “kid” asked Santa for a Lincoln and a younger wife.
“I told him we could work on the car but didn’t think he could handle the wife,” Pinglsey said.
A group of practitioners from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stationed in Mount Airy weren’t part of the official Art Walk event, but contributed to the holiday charm by performing Christmas carols for passers-by and offering free hot chocolate.
“We have been called to Mount Airy,” said Elder Smith, who said the group had recently posted a Christmas video online they hoped to share with the community.
Mark and Kaye Pratt, of Abingdon, Virginia, stopped to listen to Angels We Have Heard On High.
“That’s really good,” Mark Pratt said when the song ended.
On their way to Old North State Winery, the couple said they had been to the Moore House for tea before exploring the Art Walk.
Frequent visitors to town, the Pratt’s knew Mount Airy would be extra special this weekend.
“We have a good time,” Kaye Pratt said.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.