While wet and nasty weather early on Sunday forced town officials in Folly Beach and Summerville to postpone their parades, things cleared up and dried out enough for festivities in Mt. Pleasant. Just before sunset, locals lined the parade route, which stretched from Shem Creek to the Sea Island Shopping Center (where Coleman splits into Ben Sawyer and Chuck Dawley boulevards). A sizeable crowd gathered at the main stage in front of Moultrie Middle School to watch the opening fireworks display.
I caught a few holiday tunes from local singer/guitarist Carroll Brown down the block at a very crowded Abe’s Oyster House right before the parade started. Between the traditional carols and standards, Brown mixed a few heartfelt toasts to the “first-responders and men and women in uniform” who won’t have Christmas day off. His versions of Burl Ives’ “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” and Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper” were feisty and well-received.
Around 6:15 p.m., Mt. Pleasant Mayor Billy Swails made his opening announcements alongside parade marshal Tim Scott, the newly elected U.S. Congressman from the First Congressional District. In an unusual display of camaraderie between TV rivals, three of Charleston’s top weathermen — Bill Walsh, Tom Crawford, and Rob Fowler — took their places at the judges’ table to assess more than 100 various floats. Emcee Jack Tankersley, a longtime insurance guy and a member of the oldies/shag act East Coast Party Band, announced each sponsor as the floats and caravans rolled by.
The wind howled down Coleman in the same direction of the procession. The Wando High School Marching Band played holiday themes early in the evening while the Burke High School High Steppin’ Bulldog Band followed later with a brassy version of Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration.” Tony the Peanut Man walked the route, peddling boiled peanuts from a cooler on wheels. Santa Claus closed things out waving wildly from the fire department’s biggest ladder truck.