As the Grinch once stole Christmas, the rain tried to steal Saturday afternoon's 18th Annual Hometown Christmas Parade on Main Street in Merced.
But the people of Merced wouldn't let that happen, as hundreds lined the street huddled under umbrellas and pop-up tents as the parade went on as scheduled.
"I commend them for their courage," said Merced Mayor Stan Thurston when speaking about the Active 20-30 Club of Merced's decision to go on with the parade, despite the wet weather. "They were asked about postponing, and they said no. I'd like to compliment the 20-30 Club for doing a great job."
Many in attendance brought their kids, saying it was a tradition to see the parade every year. "We come out for the kids and entertainment," said Merced resident Frankie Russell, 49.
Another Merced resident, Rosie Shelton, said, "It's a family tradition, and we come with friends and kids every year." When asked if she would have missed it due to bad weather she replied, "No, it’s tradition. We'll come rain or shine."
The theme for the parade was "A Musical Christmas," and parade-goers experienced a lot of music in the form of marching bands, like the Golden Valley High School Cardinal Regime and Hoover Middle School’s Huskies Marching Band.
Stone Ridge Christian High School's float entry won the top prize in the float contest, taking home the $750 award. Their float featured their Knight mascot conducting a rock band with singers.
The Merced Breakfast Lions Club took the second place prize of $500 with a float carrying a brass band. Dance Saute, a girls youth dance group, won the $250 third prize, with a float elaborately decorated with pink candy canes and presents.
Prizes were also given for the best vehicle, best theme, and the most unique entry, among others. J.C. Del Toro of the Active 20-30 Club of Merced, Joe Doyland of Educational Employees Credit Union, and Karen Baker of the City of Merced judged the float entries.
To the delight of cold and wet parade-goers, the Merced Breakfast Lion's Club served free hot chocolate and cookies on Bob Hart Square. Announcers from Radio Lobo and K97.5 moderated the parade. High school student volunteers lined the parade route in green shirts and passed out goodies to kids.
Yosemite Church Worship team members Jen McCary and Camille Mays sang Christmas songs while Judy Newton played the keyboard, before the lighting of the Merco Community Christmas Tree. Merco Credit Union CEO Mike Malone lit the Christmas tree, which his company sponsored for the seventh year.
The artificial tree is housed and maintained by Merco before being displayed during the holiday season.
Best Vehicle Entry - Tis the Season Crew
Best Equestrian Entry - Los Amigos
Best Themed Entry - Stone Ridge Christian High School
Best Youth Entry - Our Lady of Mercy
Best Commercial Entry - Merced Irrigation District
Best Unique Entry - Dance Saute
Top 3 Winners:
1st Place, $750 Prize - Stone Ridge Christian High School
2nd Place, $500 Prize - Merced Breakfast Lions Club
3rd Place, $250 Prize - Dance Saute