By Michael Stewart / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
Collinsville residents Raymond, Debbie and Justin McDaniel had front row seats for the Christmas parade in downtown Meridian Saturday evening.
The family arrived shortly after 3:30 p.m. and parked their truck on 8th Street, with the bed facing the parade route.
When the parade started at 5 p.m., they were comfortably seated in folding chairs in the back of the pickup.
"We usually get here early each year," Raymond McDaniel said.
Justin, 12, said his favorite parade attractions are the big trucks and 4-wheel drives.
"Personally, I like Santa Claus," Raymond McDaniel said with a laugh.
Parking spaces were at a premium in downtown Meridian much earlier Saturday as area residents showed up in droves for Merry Meridian events coordinated by Meridian Main Street.
The morning kicked off with the Junior Auxiliary Breakfast with Santa at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The Meridian Museum of Art hosted a Merry Museum Children's Art Workshop, and a good crowd gathered on 5th Street for the Merry Meridian Indoor Boutique & Outdoor Market at the MSU Riley Center.
Vendors from throughout the Southeast lined 5th Street outside the MSU Riley Center, with many more inside the facility as well.
"It's growing," Meridian Main Street volunteer Hallie Swindoll said. "We are seeing new vendors each year."
Odlee Unik owner Stephanie Harris has set up a booth at the market for the past three years, selling novelty items from her store in Enterprise.
"It's a nice event and is good for the town," Harris said.
Homemade crafts, pottery, jewelry, candles and leather goods were just a few of the items for sale.
Meridian resident Beth Hale attended for the first time this year to shop for Christmas presents.
"I like it," Hale said. "There are a lot of pretties to look at."
There was an added treat for visitors when some 200 motorcyclists with the 2nd Annual Bikers United for Children Toy Ride passed through the heart of downtown.
But it was the holiday parade sponsored by the city of Meridian and Meridian Main Street that lined city blocks with area residents. The parade began on 8th Street and wound through downtown Meridian before ending at 22 Avenue and 14th Street.
"I like the bands the most," 8-year-old Sampson Brown said. "That and when they throw beads and candy."
When asked about Santa Claus, he replied, "Oh yeah, I like him too."