LAUREL HILL — Despite the cloudy conditions and low attendance, the event organizers considered this year's third annual Laurel Hill Christmas parade to be successful.
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"We had about the same number of participants as we had the last two years," said Laurel Hill City Clerk Nita Miller. "I think the rainy weather played a factor in the low turnout."
Miller said she noticed the low turnout at the neighboring Florala, Ala., Christmas parade, which occurred later that afternoon.
Miller and several city employees dressed as Santa's elves and threw candy and bead necklaces to attendees. Also featured in the parade were several local fire departments, law enforcement agencies including the Florida Forest Service.
Even at the last minute, members from the nearby Hopewell United Methodist Church decided to participate.
"We contacted the city on Friday to see if it was alright, and they didn't have a problem with it," church member Janet Twitty said.
Members participated by taking a tractor-driven hayride along the parade route, from New Ebenezer Road to 4th Street.
Although she was not part of the parade, Twitty said church participants are eager to be part of the parade next year.
Attendees are also willing to continue supporting of the parade.
For the third straight year, resident Melissa Matthews and her 3-year-old son, Jeremiah, stood by the side of New Ebenezer Road to catch candy and other items.
"This year was the biggest," she said. "It gets better and better each year."
Gretchen Walsh and her 6-year-old son, Charlie, Florala residents, said they had a good time attending their first Laurel Hill parade.
"I liked it because they were throwing candy," Charlie said.
His mother said they attended for another reason.
"We came to support our small local community," she said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.