HighSpringsDSCN1360_copy  Before dashing away to prepare for Christmas, Santa Claus greets youngsters at High Springs' twilight parade Saturday night.

HIGH SPRINGS – By the time Santa arrived, Olivia Grinstead was exhausted. The four-year-old had spent an hour waving enthusiastically at all the well-wishers in the 15th Annual Twilight Christmas Parade in High Springs on Dec. 10, and her arm was tired.

The parade is sponsored by the High Springs Chamber of Commerce to bring people into town and do something fun for the community, said Donna Mogler, chamber president. The parade featured 36 floats plus four groups from Alachua, said event manager Sandra Webb, with participants from Hardee’s Restaurant to Hare Krishnas turning out to march.

The winner of the parade was the Santa Fe High School Raider Regiment Band, sparkling with Christmas lights strung up their pants legs. Coming in second was the High Springs Girl Scouts, followed by the Santa-hat-clad High Springs Community School band.

The theme was based around pioneers, and many groups took it to heart. Tractors and wagons took over High Springs, making their way from Second Avenue and Second Street all the way to the railroad tracks on Main Street.

Lights flashed as participants waved at children, yelling “Merry Christmas!” and handing out candy. Vendors sold light-up toys and local foods, with many children tugging at the legs of their parents to bring home a holiday treat.

The chamber of commerce started taking applications in September in order to ensure they had time to assign floats and give the participants numbers. On the day of the event, members arrived at 3 p.m. and worked until 9 p.m., Mogler said.

“It’s a long day,” she added.

“We walk the whole parade at the very end, all the way up to our Christmas tree,” she said. “Then Santa gets to meet all the kids.”

The youngsters ran up to Santa Claus while he was still on the float, reaching for his hand and they followed as quickly as they could. Haley Rondello, 6, thought the whole thing was great. What was her favorite part?

“I loved the candy!” she said, sucking on the last bit of a candy cane.

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