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SALISBURY — Despite battling breast cancer, Cathy Riddle of Cooleemee says she was determined not to miss the Holiday Caravan Parade in downtown Salisbury, a family tradition since she was a little girl.
Wrapped up in a coat, scarf and blanket with a pink stocking cap covering her bald head, Riddle beamed Wednesday from her lawn chair on North Main Street, surrounded by husband Stan Riddle and 18 family members, all from Davie County.
“A month or so ago, we thought I wouldn’t be able to come,” she said.
But a different chemotherapy drug caused fewer side effects, and Riddle said she felt well enough to watch the parade. Then, the weather turned ugly.
“It was so cold, we almost didn’t come,” she said. “But we were determined.”
Although parade day started with a mix of rain and snow, the sun broke through just before the caravan, which started in Spencer, kicked off in Salisbury. The crowd lining the street was thinner than usual, and spectators had no problem finding a front-row spot even at the Square.
Temperatures were chilly and the wind blew in gusts, boosting sales of funnel cakes and hot chocolate. Some parade-watchers braved the elements in shorts and sandals, like 17-year-old Feylan Wesley, who said he was dressed for basketball practice at Salisbury High School that afternoon.
In the meantime, Wesley acknowledged, “I’m cold.”
Abe Early stopped in Salisbury while traveling from Charlotte to High Point to witness his first Holiday Caravan.
“This is outstanding,” Early said.
Friends in Salisbury asked Early what kinds of parades they have in Charlotte.
“Not ones you get can to, and not ones you can see well,” he said.
His son Bram, 6, stood just a few feet from the action.
“Slapping high-fives with Frosty was a highlight,” Early said.
For the first time, bands and dance groups could stop and perform for 90 seconds in front of the judging area in Spencer and at the reserved seating area in Salisbury at the corner of North Main and Liberty streets.
Rowan County commission Chairman Jim Sides did not let a political protestor ruin his holiday spirit, waving and smiling from the commissioners’ parade entry and yelling “Merry Christmas” to the man holding a sign that read, “Fire Sides and Pierce.”
Overall, the parade crowd was upbeat and even joyous as people huddled together to stay warm and celebrate the beginning of the holiday season.
The Riddles maintained their record of attending the Holiday Caravan annually throughout their marriage, 36 years and counting.
“It kicks our Christmas off,” Cathy Riddle said. “And this Christmas will be especially good.”
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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