Hundreds of local residents made their way to the snow-filled streets of downtown Merced on Saturday to help spread the holiday spirit with this year’s Christmas parade.
Kicking off in the afternoon under clear skies, the parade featured dozens of community floats, bands, and dance groups. They made their way going west up Main Street, along the way passing Bob Hart Square, where the judges stand and the largest number of spectators were located. The parade participants gave it their all and performed their flashiest moves to impress the judges and spread holiday cheer.
Judges would later tally up their votes to announce this year’s top entries. The Girl Scouts Troop 626 would take Fourth Place, with the Merced Senior Center’s float taking the Third Place spot. The Merced High Marching 100 would take Second Place with Studio K dance Studio rounding out the winners with the top spot in First Place.
Near the end of the parade, Santa Claus himself would garner the biggest response from hundreds of children lining the street who had been waiting to spot Ol’ Saint Nick himself. As he made his way out of the thick snow being blown through the air by a number of snow machines, families cheered his arrival on a vintage fire truck escort courtesy of the Merced Fire Department.
Following the parade, a number of live performances and singing filled the intersection of Main Street and Canal as snow machines blew snow into the open air and children played with one another as they waited for the grand finale of the night.
As families gathered around the MERCO Credit Union Community Christmas Tree, the judges stand would lead a countdown from 10. As the crowd counted down to 1, the tree came to life with colorful lights to the cheers of those in attendance. Once lit, families began to gather around the tree for family photos and to take a closer look at this year’s colorful decorations.