Thousands crowded East Main Street in Havelock Saturday for the 43rd annual Christmas Parade.

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Thousands crowded East Main Street in Havelock Saturday for the 43rd annual Christmas Parade.

The parade theme this year was “A Parade of Trees,” and applicants were encouraged to show their ingenuity through creative trees.

The winning float was from the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport, which featured children dressed as Christmas trees, a giant gingerbread man, and a large cutout of a Christmas tree designed like a frosted cookie. It was accompanied by people wearing mini-airplanes.

The Carolina Chocolate Festival float took second place with its immense white Christmas tree, a smaller green one, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles handing out candy to the crowd, and large decorative candy pieces that looked straight out of Willy Wonka’s factory.

In third place was the Center of the Performing Arts float, featuring two Christmas trees and more than 15 children and teenagers dressed as characters from traditional Christmas ballets. More up-and-coming performers walked next to the float in various costumes, passing out candy and wishing attendees a merry Christmas.

Local fire departments and emergency medical services shined up their trucks and tossed candy out to children during the parade.

The Marine Corps Color Guard led the parade and Havelock High’s Navy Junior ROTC demonstrated their military bearing with some close-order drill.

Ram cheerleaders led the way for the Havelock High state football championship football team, which rode on a flatbed truck and waved at the crowd.

Havelock High’s flag-twirling Color Guard led the way for the marching band, which played traditional Christmas music to welcome the star of the parade, Santa Claus.

“My favorite part was getting candy,” said Braylon Turner, 6, who said he wanted to come back next year.

“I liked the fire trucks and horse the best,” chimed in Benjamin Longen, 4, Braylon’s partner in candy gathering.

Various other area businesses and organizations, churches and elected officials presented floats or drove through the parade route.

The parade had been scheduled for Dec. 14, but officials decided to delay it for a week, as the Havelock football team was playing in the state 3A championship.

Cathryn Lindsay is a reporter for the Sun Journal.