Yolanda Dixon hadn’t seen the Belk Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade in a number of years, but she said something special brought her to the Thanksgiving Day event Thursday morning in Charlotte.
“We came for him,” said Dixon, of Lancaster, S.C., pointing to her 7-year-old son Elijah, as he watched horses from the Latta Equestrian Center prance by.
The 65th Carrousel parade brought tens of thousands of spectators to Charlotte’s uptown. They were treated to more than 125 parade entries under sunny skies and mild temperatures.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison was grand marshal, and three-time Olympic swimmer Ricky Berens of Charlotte was a featured guest. But the big winners were the marching band from East Burke High School and Providence High School senior Mijal Bucay.
East Burke won the Spirit of Carrousel Award as the top marching band and will be the featured band in the 2013 Carrousel parade – a position held this year by Providence High’s band.
Bucay won first place in the annual Carolinas’ Carrousel Scholarship Competition. She was among 58 high school girls competing for the $3,000 top award.
Among the scenes in the parade was a Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit dog barked from the front window of a department SUV. Clowns in all manner of wacky colors ducked off the parade line at the end and zoomed around on trikes.
The Charlotte Fire Department bagpipe band played “God Bless America.”
“The weather’s been great, and it’s a nice family atmosphere,” said Kris Latten of Charlotte, who came with his 6-year-old grandson Gregory Goodman. The boy blew a red plastic vuvuzela after watching the River Oaks Academy band go by.