Cleveland welcomes Christmas season

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 3, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
CLEVELAND — Cleveland natives Gretchen and Tina Dunlap have never missed the town’s annual Christmas parade.
“I’ve been every year since I was born, it’s a family tradition,” she said. “After the parade is over we go home and put up our tree.”
Now, the mother-daughter duo is passing on the tradition to Tina’s 2-year-old daughter Gabrielle Dunlap-Rhodes.
“This basically kicks off the holiday season for us,” Gretchen said.
Curtis Athey of Kannapolis is passing down the tradition to his family. Raised in western Rowan County, he was typically in the parade growing up.
“Now I actually get to watch it,” he said.
The family made stops at the Holiday Caravan parade that goes through Spencer and Salisbury and the South Rowan parade that traveled through China Grove and Landis earlier this month.
“We hit them all, but this is the one the kids love to come to,” he said.
“They throw out more candy at this parade than any other parade in Rowan County,” he said. “If you want candy, you just show up here.”
Christina Dodson comes to the parade with her mother, Amy, every year, but this year was extra special.
“It’s her 14th birthday so this is part of her party,” Amy said.
Christina and friends Kaylen Shuping and Breanna Myers had their bags ready to catch as much candy as possible.
But Christina said her favorite part always comes near the end.
“I love seeing the horses,” she said.
Brothers Landen, 8, Caleb, 7, and Elijah Bumgarner, 5, were eagerly awaiting candy Saturday as they stood with their grandparents, Brenda and Eli Honeycutt.
“We just wanted to get the kids out of the house,” Brenda said. “And this really kicks off the Christmas holiday; it just adds to the spirit.”
Hundreds of people lined Main Street on Saturday afternoon as classic cars, local Scout troops, horses and Santa Claus rolled through town.
The only thing missing this year was music. The West Rowan High School Marching Band was absent because they traveled to Chapel Hill to support the football team in their bid for the state championship.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.