Thousands turn out for JFA's Christmas parade

Lisa Yates @Lisa_editor
See more photos from the Christmas parade posted in our photo gallery.

Sunday's unseasonably warm temps and threat of rain didn't stop thousands of residents from heading downtown to watch this year's Jambalaya Festival Association's Christmas parade, including Fernita Kleeman.

"I wish I would have gotten here a little sooner to get a better view," she said.

Kleeman and her husband, Steven, both of Gonzales, said this was their first time coming to the local Christmas parade. They arrived late because it looked like rain. The couple came because of their 3-year-old son Steven, Jr.

"This is his first parade ever," said his mother. "He's never seen anything like this before."

The warm weather didn't stop hundreds of people who lined Worthy Rd. from getting in the holiday spirit. It also didn't stop Santa Claus from making an appearance at the end of the parade. Santa's appearance from top of a float delighted children, who earlier told their moms they couldn't wait to see him.

While Becky Broussard's 3-year-old son Dawson was one of the children excited to see Santa, her 7-year-old son Noah, her 8-year-old niece Sarah, and her 9-year-old cousin Julius, were hoping to catch candy and toys in the parade.

"I like to catch the footballs," Noah said.

His mother said they came to the parade to have fun.

"It gets you in the Christmas spirit," she said. "The kids get very excited."

Broussard and her husband, Roger, both of Prairieville, and their children were among an estimated 1,000 people who lined name of Burnside Ave., and were among 3,000 along the entire parade route.

Organizers said the parade was a huge success. This year's parade theme was "Rockin' around the Christmas tree" with grand marshal was Swamp Pop recording artist Roland Doucet.

The parade started at 2 p.m. at East Ascension High School on Worthy Rd., proceeded to Burnside Ave. and ended at Galleries Gonzales Shopping Center. The atmosphere was festive. Up-beat Christmas tunes boomed from marching bands, which was followed by teenage girls keeping time to the music and twirling oversized candy canes.

People clad in shorts and flip flops sat on lawn chairs sipping bottled water and cold drinks, and others like Victoria Martin brought their dogs.

"I thought the parade turned out good," she said. "I'm so glad it didn't rain."

Martin, and her friend Junior George, both of Gonzales, were at the parade with their poodle Braxton dressed in his Christmas sweater. She said her 10-year-old daughter decided to visit her father in Denham Springs instead of coming to the parade.

"My kids didn't want to come because they thought it would rain," she said. "I've been going to the parade all of my life."

Organizers said the parade's float entries were especially good this year and judging was difficult.

First- and second-place and third-place winners were awarded to parade participants in number of divisions, including a Commecial Division, a Children and Youth Division, a Civic Division; and, an over all Best of Show winner. In addition, there were a number of honorable mentions in each category.

According to Joyce LaCour, Christmas Parade Judge, Genesis Learning Center won Best of Show.

Winning entries in the Commecial Division were: Alexander Concrete and Guist Brothers, first place; Ascension Specialty Advertising, second place; and, Cox Communications, third place. Honorable Mentions in this category included: Diex Sign; E. Federal Credit Union; and, Lori's School of Dance.

Winning entries in the Children and Youth Division were: Dutchtown 4-H Club, first place; St. Amant Future Farmers of America, second place; and, Boy Scout Pack 399, third place. Honorable Mentions in this category included: Oak Grove Primary 4-H; and, JFA Jambalaya Children's Pageant.

Winning entries in the Civic Division were: True Light Worship, first place; Galvez Lake Fire Department, second place; and, Hopeful Baptist Church, third place. Honorable Mentions in this category included: Gonzales Police Department; Heather's Heavenly Helpers; and, Elite Queens Social Club.