By CHARLES PULLIAMFor Tristan Mutters there was only one mission during Saturday’s Kiwanis Christmas Parade: hand out candy … by the bucket.
For Tristan Mutters there was only one mission during Saturday’s Kiwanis Christmas Parade: hand out candy … by the bucket.
Mutters, 9, who had worked up a sweat on the fall-like day, joined his parents in the parade as part of the tail end of the mass of Christmas floats, decorated vehicles and hundreds of walkers that toed through Franklin’s streets as part of the annual celebration. Mutters followed the fire struck that carried Santa Claus and it looked like he was herding the truck, moving from each side of the street distributing sweets.
“This was his first time in the parade,” said Tristan’s mom, Tara, who also helped hand out the goodies. “I think he had a blast and obvisouly loved it.”
Friday’s parade stretched from Jim Warner Park along Highway 96, through the Franklin Public Square and down West Main Street before ending near 11th Avenue N. Thousands lined the streets and along West Main Street the crowd condensed into an even larger waving cluster of parade supporters and candy go-getters.
“The weather was perfect so I really think there were record crowds here,” said Franklin resident Sunni Paine, in her third year as a parade spectator. “It was a lot of fun. I thought there were more entries and definitley more candy, I think.”
There was a mix of parade participants and spectators in the Paine family. Sisters Ali Paine, a senior, and Kat Olsen, a freshman, were both part of Franklin High School’s marching band which was honored as the grand marshal of the parade.
“They’ve had such a great year marching so it was awesome to see,” Sunni said of the Franklin Marching Band, which placed second in Class AAA competition several weeks ago.
Along Highway 96 across from the McDonalds, stood Khalia Jones with her grandmother and big sister. Jones, who is 13 months old, took in the sights and sounds of the parade in awe. She pointed excitedly to the high school and middle school bands, shyed away from a group of crazy clowns and couldn’t stop staring and flashing a near toothless grin to the friendly walkers who tossed mini candy canes, tootsie rolls and other sweets in her and her sister’s direction.
“Yeah, I think you could say she loved it,” her grandmother Martha Jones said with a laugh.
As the parade made a right turn onto 3rd Avenue toward the square, there stood Cash and Cillian O’Brien, ages 6 and 4 respectively, with their parents. The Mutters went out of their way to drop off a couple extra pieces of candy with the young brothers when Santa passed. After all, they were wearing matching snowman shirts.
Brothers Garet and Gavin of Troop 597 also acknowledged the younger set of brothers. The troop of Cub Scouts were joined by family members, including 9-week-old Charlie, a puppy who took in the parade and attracted plenty of “oohs” and “awes” from the crowd. Charlie was being pushed in a baby stroller because of broken leg, but still took in the Christmas scene with comfort.
It looked like a flashback to Halloween night with the amounts of candy tossed to the spectators. With each of the 75 floats that passed handfuls of sweets were tossed to be picked up by young parade goers. Kids would dive in to collect the goodies, snatching up sweets and adding them to over-flowing grocery bags.
“It was a lot of fun this year like it always is,” said Andrea Latham, the co-chair of the annual parade. “We had wonderful weather … and the whole route was just packed with people and the middle of town was wall to wall. I think it just gets bigger and better each year.”
Latham was unsure of overall attendance figues, but may have a better idea by Monday when parade planners will look into surveys from the many spectators. Quick response codes were placed near the beginning and end of the parade route to collect information to gauge what people thought of the Christmas celebration, said Latham.
“We also asked what they would change, asked for different ideas and what their favorites were,” she added.
Latham said another parade first was the collection of unwrapped toys to hellp fill Santa’s sleigh.
“This was the first year and we didn’t get as much as we wanted, but it was a start,” Latham said. “It will be an annual thing like the parade and we hope it will take off next year.”
The Kiwanis Club and Franklin Firefighters Association collected the toys and other gifts. People still interested in donating toys can bring them by any Franklin Fire Department or GraceWorks Ministries, Latham said.