Under clear skies with temperatures hovering in the mid-30s, the 31st annual Christmas Parade of Pembroke kicked off promptly at 10 a.m. to the delight of hundreds of people gathered along Main Street.
Sponsored by the Bryan County 4-H Club, the parade honored 103-year-old Pembroke resident Altie Moody, who was named grand marshal and led the parade from a point of honor at the front of the procession. Emcee and WTOC broadcaster Sonny Dixon even stopped the parade to give the centenarian a hug.
Even with more than 100 entrants, the parade moved quickly, a testament to the organizational skills of coordinator Karen Puchala and her 4-H staff.
“I love the parade. I come every year. I see people I know and it’s a chance to visit with neighbors,” north Bryan County resident Debbie Marshall said. “It gets better every year.”
Pembroke Mayor Mary Warnell agreed.
“This is the largest event in the city every year. It brings our city together. I love seeing the smiles on the children’s faces every year. The weather is great. It’s a wonderful event,” Warnell said.
The festivities offered activities and sights for participants and viewers of all ages. There were eclectic entrants, such as the 300-pound man with a jewel in his belly button, and plenty of classics, including hot-rod cars, vintage tractors and Santa, who made a grand entrance.
Puchala said all the parade entrants were winners but the top three floats belonged to: Embellish Boutique, which took first place; Bridge Church in second place; and the Bryan County Library in third.
The parade was one of several holiday events held over the weekend in Pembroke. Others included a festival with crafts and food booths, a children’s carnival and a viewing of the hit Disney movie “Frozen.”
Warnell also said that snow was forecast for Saturday afternoon in Pembroke — courtesy of a snow machine.
“This is what I love about small towns — all these friendly events with something for the whole family,” Marshall said.