By MADDY VITALE
The Grinch gave Santa Claus a bit of competition Friday night at Ocean City’s annual Christmas Parade, making his grumpy green appearance on several floats.
But in the end, Jolly Old Saint Nicholas aboard a horse-drawn carriage, complete with a white steed, had the last say, as he waved to cheering children in the grand finale of the festive event.
Spectators lined Asbury Avenue for the parade, which stretched from Sixth Street to 11th Street. There was a lot to see — floats, cold-air balloons, marching bands, fire engines, dancers, singers, pageant queens, skateboarders, and even dogs dressed in Christmas outfits.
Asbury Avenue was decked out in old-fashioned decorations serving as the festive backdrop for the event. City Hall, with lights in the windows, wreaths and the decorated tree added to the ambiance.
Liz Nicke, of Millville, N.J., brought along her family, from Mullica Hill, N.J., and Egg Harbor Township, to experience the event.
Some of the children, all cousins, wore colored lights around their necks and other festive clothing for the holiday parade.
“We make it a family event every year,” Nicke said. “We’ve been coming for the last five years. It really kicks off the season and gets us into the holiday spirit.”
Grace O’Brien, 12, of Mullica Hill, was with Nicke and her cousins for her favorite parade.
“I like spending time with my cousins and I like everything about the parade — the whole thing,” Grace said.
This year’s parade featured 75 entries, including the Ocean City High School Marching Band, the Interboro High School Marching Band of Prospect Park, Pa., and the Absegami High School Marching Braves.
The Upper Township Elementary and Middle School Choir sang in front of City Hall after the parade was over.
Ericka Pitman, of Northfield, and her children, Sydney, 6, and Ella, 9, were bundled up while seated just in front of City Hall. They anxiously awaited the start of the parade.
“I’ve been coming since I was a kid and I want my daughters to experience the same thing. We are lucky to have such a great parade,” Pitman said.
Ella said what she liked most about the parade was seeing the floats. She also said she loves the holidays.
“I like to spend time with family and friends,” Ella said, adding that her friend was singing in the choir.
Ben and Christine Vanderhaeghen, of Ocean View, brought their 20-month-old son, Dylan, to enjoy the festivities.
“We like the parade and how the city decorates the avenue,” Ben Vanderhaeghen said. “We come every year.”