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Christmas parades into Leesburg (PHOTO GALLERY)

Miss Georgia Carly Mathis is grand marshal of Leesburg’s Christmas parade

A clown plays to the crowd in the Leesburg Christmas parade Saturday. (Staff photo: Jim West)

A clown plays to the crowd in the Leesburg Christmas parade Saturday. (Staff photo: Jim West)

LEESBURG — It was warm for December, but Leesburg was looking a lot like Christmas on Saturday.

The main attraction of the day was the Spirit of Christmas celebration, with a parade that went down down Main Street.

Well before the scheduled start of the 10 a.m. event, sidewalks were jammed with families eager to be entertained by decorated floats, the cracks of ancient gunfire and the sounds of well-played brass. For some of the younger set, the big draw was the waves of candy hurled into the crowds.

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The Lee County High School Marching Band shows holiday flair. (Staff photo: Jim West)

Serving as grand marshal for the parade was Carly Mathis, Miss Georgia for 2013 and a top 10 finisher in this year’s Miss America Pageant. And of course, no one is a bigger draw in December than the jolly ol’ big guy with the long white beard, who again opened the day with the traditional breakfast at Lee County High School. For yet another year, his good friend George Pressley Sr. persuaded St. Nick to attend.

The parade was followed by Leeburg’s Christmas festival, where there were train and pony rides, as well as wooden toys for kids. There was lots of food, including funnel cakes and barbecue. Dogs sported Christmas hats and a pet parade was early in the afternoon. There was a long list of entertainment scheduled, including performances by the Dance Company, the Lee County High School Chorus and Broadway Bound.

In the parade, prizes were given for best Christmas floats in both non-commercial and commercial categories.

This year, first place in the non-commercial float category went to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Cub Scout Pack 210 took the second place, with Girl Scouts No. 40595 winning third.

In the commercial float category, first place went to the YMCA. Second place was won by Pressley Electric and third place went to Limbcare Prosthetics and Orthotics.