This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.

It was a parade of parades in Caldwell County this weekend, as floats and candy-seeking kids converged on Lenoir, Sawmills, Granite Falls and Hudson — or all four — on Friday and Saturday.

The festivities were stairstepped through the weekend. Lenoir’s took place at night, with people and their chairs lining the sidewalks three or four rows deep. Sawmills, Granite and Hudson happened in the sun on Saturday, with all three — at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively — managing to avoid the predicted rain.

The four parades did, of course, share some similarities. All four shared the pageant winners and homecoming queens in their sequined gowns, Santa rounding the corner, the hum of the classic cars’ engines, the sheriff and the register of deeds and the clerk of court, and the little “clack” of the Dum Dums and mini candy bars hitting the asphalt.But there were also things that felt unique to each particular parade at hand, and to the town that hosted it.

In Lenoir, a dad danced in the square with his tiny blonde daughter as a recorded Alan Jackson sang “Let it Be Christmas Everywhere” over the speakers and the Christmas lights flashed to the rhythm.

In Sawmills, a few people knew almost everyone passing by, and they waved and wished them a Merry Christmas by name.

In Granite Falls, kids clustered at the corner of Falls Avenue and Claremont Street, right where the parade started, and ran out to scoop up armfuls of candy that didn’t quite make it to the sidewalks.

In Hudson, the town’s man and woman of the year rode by, one after the other, not far behind the newly elected mayor.

And that, really, is the appeal of a Christmas parade, the one civic event guaranteed to draw crowds of all ages, classes and races in the smallest towns and the biggest cities.

A parade full of your town’s churches and Boy Scout troops and Santa makes you feel like you’re from somewhere. It makes you feel like you have roots in a place that will change but will, regardless, send the marching band and the homecoming queen down the main corridor in December.

Whichever town you were in, there was plenty of that feeling to be had this weekend.