First time or 20th, Holiday Caravan hits the spot
By Hugh Fisher
SALISBURY - For many, watching the annual Holiday Caravan parade in Spencer and Salisbury is a kick-off to the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, of dinners, shopping and time with family.
For some, it's a tradition in and of itself.
Take Carol Julian for example. She's watched the parade from the same spot downtown for the past 20 years.
Back in the day, Julian said, she worked for the city of Salisbury at its downtown office.
"This is our spot," she said - the ledge by one of the columns, right on the corner of North Main and Council streets.
She now works as an administrative assistant at Catawba College.
But every year, with children and now grandchildren in tow, Julian still watches the bands, floats and performers from the same spot.
"We were here about 45 minutes ahead of time," Julian said, as the police and fire sirens wailed to signal that the parade was about to being.
Jennifer Foster, of Cleveland, said she remembers coming to watch the parade here with her grandmother.
Wednesday, in the afternoon sun by that column, she held the newest member of the family: her son Braden, who's not quite 7 weeks old.
He slept soundly, wrapped in a blanket, as the bands marched by and carols filled the air.
Nearby, her older children Haley, 9, and Olivia, 2, kept a lookout for candy by the curb.
Though one of the Holiday Caravan's purposes is to spark downtown shopping, Foster and family see the parade as part of Thanksgiving.
"It's a good way to spend time as a family," Julian said.
A few feet away from the spot Haley and Olivia were on candy patrol, Tony and Teresa Barringer of Salisbury sat to enjoy the parade.
This year, they had a new reason to celebrate.
This was the first Christmas parade their 3-year-old granddaughter, Eisley Hartsfield of Greenville, N.C., had ever seen.
"It's more fun as a grandparent," Tony said.
Eisley, though she'd never seen a parade, knew who to look out for at the end ... a certain jolly man in a red suit, whom she is asking to bring her a Lalaloopsy doll.
A little ways down the street, in front of the Rowan Museum, sat Marie Ebersold of Rockwell with her family and about 16 fellow parishioners of High Rock Community Church.
"We've been sitting here for the last several years," Ebersold said.
The patch of grass in front of the city's historic former courthouse was covered with blankets and seats.
Someone from their group of churchgoers shows up early, she said, to claim the grassy spot.
Her yellow Labrador retriever, Charly, sat next to her ... not so much a guard dog, but willing to be petted and to give a friendly lick to passers-by.
For Ebersold, the best part of the parade came when the Salisbury Fire Dept. honor guard passed.
Her husband, firefighter A.J. Ebersold, was marching with them, followed at a short distance by the section of World Trade Center steel beam that memorializes the sacrifices made on Sept. 11, 2001.
Their son, 18-month-old Hunter, used the oarade's floats as a chance to show off his vocabulary.
"Truck!" said Hunter, before turning shy.
The candy and lights, the carols and dancers, are enough to make many Scrooges smile.
The only Grinch in sight was the one who pedaled a large tricycle, with a girl dressed up as Cindi Lou Who from Dr. Seuss' classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
Across North Main Street, Stacy Montgomery, certified paralegal at the Davis law firm, sat in the office parking lot.
"I brought my desk chair out," she said. They had their prime spot staked out an hour before the first floats passed."It gets crazy out here," she said.
Her son, Aaron Montgomery, 14, reclined in the trunk of the family car.
Their family dog, Lula - a Shih Tzu - kept a lookout perched on his lap.
They enjoy the bands, the tractors and the Shriners' go-karts.
But Aaron, who is in Army JROTC, said he was proud to see the veterans who took part in the parade.
His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served.
"I'm proud of them, very much so," he said.
As Thanksgiving gets ever more engulfed by Black Friday, and Halloween and Christmas seem to fade into one another, the Holiday Caravan is a time to celebrate the start of the merriest of holidays.
It's also a family tradition, a time to return to the familiar.
And that's also something for which to be thankful.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor's desk at 704-797-4244.