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Parade rolls through southern Rowan County

Hundreds of families filled the streets of Landis and China Grove Tuesday to witness an over 30-year-old tradition and grab a few sweet treats.

Close to 100 combined floats, cars and walking groups took part in the annual Southern Rowan Christmas Parade, which  began in Landis and ended in China Grove. Many of the riders on parade floats and in cars threw candy to the parade watchers and small children. The kids subsequently scrambled to stuff as many pieces of candy as possible into their pockets and bags.

The parade kicked off at 3 p.m. in Landis at the intersection of First Avenue and Main Street. A horde of various police department and sheriff’s office cars led the parade procession, blaring sirens. Fire departments from multiple stations and public officials also led the parade from the front.

Sitting near the starting point of the parade were Mary Rothwell and her grandson Rylen Willis. Rothwell said she had attended the annual parade since her oldest son, now 24, was a baby.

“This is just the beginning of the Christmas season and we came because I wanted to pass it down to the third generation,” Rothwell said.

As for Willis, he was busy waving at floats and picking up candy, stuffing a few in his pockets and others in a bag behind Rothwell.

Just down the street from the grandmother and her grandson was another grandmother and grandson. Christine Preston, from China Grove, was enjoying her first Southern Rowan Christmas Parade in a seat next to Preston Dodson, her grandson.

Dodson said his favorite candy was Dum Dums lollipops, popping a few into his mouth over the course of the parade.

Amanda Dodson, Preston’s mother, said it was her second time coming to the parade. Amanda said they decided to watch the parade this year not only for the holiday festivities, but also because they had friends who were also watching the parade.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Amanda said. “Preston is having a ball.”

After the initial group of vehicles passed parade goers, walking groups and floats were up next, including two high school bands, cheerleaders and, of course, Santa Claus.

In addition to the expected Merry Christmas wishes, Santa also wished the crowd a Happy Thanksgiving as he traveled down Main Street and on to China Grove.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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