Santa Claus came to town -- twice

Bahama, Chapel Hill welcome the jolly old elf
Dec. 14, 2013 @ 05:09 PM

From infants to octogenarians, residents turned out in Bahama and Chapel Hill on Saturday to welcome Santa to town, not letting the threat of rain dampen their holiday spirits.

In Chapel Hill, Lene Kiester of Chapel Hill huddled under a blanket in front of her husband’s office on Franklin Street with her daughter, Claire, 13, and son, Owen, 8.

They have attended the parade every year since Claire was a baby and always get to the parade early so they can watch the bands go by from the same spot. Kiester spent summers in Wisconsin and Michigan, where the Fourth of July parade is “the big thing.”

“Here it’s the Christmas parade and I love that we get to see all of our friends in the parade,” said Kiester.

Jan Baumler wore a Christmas-tree shaped headband and waited with her camera ready to photograph her grandson, Thomas, who was on the float with Santa. Baumler is in town to enjoy an early Christmas with family and they have plans to see productions of “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol.” 

“This is a great community parade. It’s perfect to start off the celebrations with the parade,” Baumler said.

In Bahama, it appeared that Santa and Mrs. Claus were doing some preliminary reconnaissance of the route before the parade began, but the couple turned out to be Terry and Alice Kolacinski of Durham (although Terry acknowledged he’s suited up as Santa a time or two). Although they’ve lived in Durham since 1980, they said it was the first time they have attended the parade. The couple has friends involved in the Ruritan Club, so they decided it was time Saturday to come out for the parade – it’s one of the things that should be on people’s bucket lists, Alice Kolacinski said.

“It’s the whole atmosphere of a small-town parade,” she said.

Father and daughter Stacy and Cassie Hill, 12, have made it a holiday tradition for their family.

“We try to come every year,” Stacy Hill said. He added that layering and coffee were the keys to staying warm.

Nearby, Cassie, 12, and Jacob Childers, 10, were looking forward to seeing their cousin, Savannah Likness, who was riding in the parade. Her mom, Tabetha, said Savannah was a little nervous, especially about throwing candy in the right amounts so there was enough left to last the parade route.

Melissa Manning lives near the parade route. She and her husband have been coming to the parade since before her children – Jacob, 7, and Emma, 10 – were born. Jacob was excited about the candy that was coming his way, and Emma wanted to see the horses.

And near the end of the parade route, Mike Ellis and his N.C. Dominators softball team staked out spots to view the floats and pick up candy. Every year Ellis’ family has a party because their house is on the parade route. This year, he wanted his team to come and be a part of it.

Not too far down the street, Charles Mader and 7-year-old John of Bahama waited for the parade to start. John said he was most looking forward to the “old cars that are cool,” and “the candy.”

But for Charles Mader, there was meaning in the parade.

“I like Santa Claus and floats that have religious themes,” he said. “It brings what the true spirit of the season is about out.”