ALBANY -- Braving chilly weather, fans of the Albany Water Gas & Light annual Celebration of Lights Parade turned out for the 19th annual show early.
"This is my 19th year hosting the parade," said Kurt Baker a local radio personality at B-100. "I think this is only the second year it has been this cold."
People began bringing blankets at about 4 p.m. to stake out seats near the Albany-Dougherty Judicial Center at 225 Pine Street to watch parade officials light the Christmas tree and review the parade.
One bundled up spectator Frankie Williams, 7, accompanied by his mother Karema Williams, 46, liked a lot about parades in general, but was really eager to see Santa Claus.
"I like to wave at everyone in the parade," Frankie said. "I like when they give things out. I want to see Santa."
It would be two hours after the Christmas tree was lit at about 6 p.m. before Santa arrived at the reviewing area from the parade's starting area at Monroe and Pine Streets. Once the parade moved past the reviewing area it turned left on Washington Street to head west on Broad.
"We found that about 60 percent of the spectators gather on Pine Avenue," said Phil Cannon, an Albany attorney helping with parade vendors. "About 40 percent of the people view from Broad Avenue."
Vendors on the Pine Avenue side were doing well in the 45-degree temperatures selling both food, coffee and hot chocolate.
At about 5:30 p.m. an hour before the parade was scheduled to start, Raymond Barlow, 69, was running out of cups for his Doo Wop Cafe hot beverages.
"I had to order 120 more cups," Barlow said. "I think we are going to do very well in this crowd."
There was no one available to give estimates on the number of people at the parade, but thousands lined the entire route to listen to bands, see dancers, floats and finally welcome Santa.
Leading the parade, the Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany band held forth after its color guard led the way.
Other bands that brought Christmas music to the parade included the Albany High School Marching Band, Dougherty High School Marching Band and the Monroe High School Band that laid down a thumping base drumbeat to "Jingle Bell Rock."
Toning it down a bit the Albany State University Marching Band touched feelings with a moving brass current through its rendition of "Praise is What We Do."
What Logan Frost, 7, was doing was waiting for Santa. Accompanied by his brother Tanner Musgrove, 3, their mother Christy Musgrove, 35, and their grandmother Dee Patton, 62, Logan was intent on seeing Santa Claus.
The adults in the party of four had wishes for Santa too.
"I'd like people to stop being so hostile," Christy Musgrove said. Her mother was quick to join in.
"I'd like that too," Patton said. "People should treat each other like family."
Standing in the chilly weather from the lighting of the tree the Walley family had time to chat when Santa made his arrival. With Daughter Haley, 10, shouting her hello to Santa, Mother Rachel, 32, and father George thought the parade worthwhile and fun.
"It was really good. It had people in the parade from all age groups and it was really great for the kids," Rachel Walley said. "It really had the Christmas feeling for the children."