Johnson City Christmas parade draws largest crowd ever

Jonathan Roberts • Updated Dec 7, 2019 at 9:26 PM

It’s nearly impossible to know for sure, but Johnson City Christmas parade organizer Jennifer Clements is confident Saturday’s event set an attendance record.

“I’ve never seen so many people here before,” Clements said. “I’m pretty sure this is the largest crowd we’ve ever had.”

Nothing, however, played as big of a role in bringing the large crowd to Johnson City than the Budweiser Clydesdales, who appeared in Johnson City’s Christmas parade after years of effort by organizers.

“We are really, really excited about the Budweiser Clydesdales being in the parade this year,” Clements told The Press earlier this week. “That has been really exciting and we’ve been glad to partner with Holston (Distributing) — we’ve been trying to get them for a couple of years, and finally the schedules and everything worked out so we’re really excited about that.”

Earlier this week, Clements predicted having the Clydesdales would “add a whole other level of fun” to the parade, and judging from the children’s reaction, it seems she was right.

“I really liked the horses, those were my favorite,” said Logan Readye, whose family brought him and his siblings to the parade. “It was really cool.”

Another new addition to this year’s parade was a fully restored 1928 Seagrave fire truck, which served as Santa Claus’ sleigh for the day -— a change he seemed excited about.

“I can’t think of a better homage to the city’s past than to have a fire truck that actually responded in 1928,” Santa said. “I’m honored that the firemen let me ride on it with them, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Saturday though, was about more than just the Clydesdales, the Seagrave or the dozens of floats for city Mayor Jenny Brock.

“I’m so excited, this is just great,” Brock said as she handed out candy to children gathered along the parade’s route on West Walnut Street. “I’m just thrilled to death.

“Any time your community comes together it’s just a great thing,” she added. “I couldn’t be more excited for the people who are here to see this; we live in a great city and it’s showing.”

For Clements, Saturday was all about kicking off the holiday season with the community, and bringing some holiday cheer to everyone in attendance.

“It’s about Christmas cheer, and we’re really bringing it to Johnson City today,” Clements said. “We’re really, really thankful for all the support from the community coming out and being here today.”

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