Paradegoers like Kenneth Bernard Hemphill knew strategy was key in order to keep Thanksgiving’s unseasonably cold weather from getting in the way of a longtime father-son tradition of attending the event together.
So Hemphill, 51, of Chester, S.C., and his 10-year-old son, K.J., came prepared for the 32-degree temperature at the start of the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade in uptown Charlotte.
Sleeping bags. Long johns. Scarves. Hats. And something Hemphill called insulated suits.
How ya doing under all that, K.J.?
“Good,” said K.J., raising his chin outside his green-camo scarf to answer. “And cold.”
Still, the Hemphills had no plans to move from their chairs along Tryon Street. They’ve attended together for nine years, Dad said, and weren’t going to be stopped by the cold.
That seemed to be the case for most of the spectators attending the longtime city event, started in 1947, which had a different spin this year. An official spectator count wasn’t immediately available.
The three-hour parade still featured Santa Claus as the finale, and still included the crowd-pleasing high school and community bands showing off their high-stepping moves and musicianship.
New this year were snow-globe floats and performances from dancers, singers and marching bands at a reviewing stand in front of the Levine Center for the Arts. The revamp came with the parade’s new sponsor, Novant Health, and new organizer, Charlotte Center City Partners.
The chilly weather did call for some planning among attendees. Spotted along the route were a colorful array of fleece wraps, hats styled as turkeys, a smattering of knitted masks and at least one family styling its own tent of sorts out of chairs and blankets.
Members of the Porter family from Cramerton toted a red wagon to the parade, as they usually do. This year, they filled it with blankets, as well as 6-year-old Xavier and 5-year-old Lily.
While mom Jennifer went in search of hot drinks, dad Les kept the kids wrapped up.
He considered it a good trial run for Friday night football games, but they’ll need a plan to keep all of Lily warm.
“We’ve got to figure out the nose,” he said. Staff writers Steve Lyttle and John Bordsen contributed.
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