Being a parent means sometimes reveling in little moments, like when your two teen boys are marching with their high school marching band in a parade and you make a public display out of the situation when they stop in front of you.
The 34th Dominion Energy Christmas Parade rolled, strutted, dazzled and honked its way down Broad Street on Saturday as tens of thousands of onlookers took in all sorts of sights and sounds — from the music of high school and university bands to large balloons, “Star Wars” characters and Snoopy, majorettes and dancers, and folks handing out all sorts of goodies, including peppermint candies, lollipops and 2-packs of Ukrop’s beloved White House Rolls.
Two of those in attendance were Kevin and Kari Layell, of Richmond, along with two of their four children, Emily, 6, and Korbyn, 1. They were waiting patiently for the Thomas Jefferson High School marching band, with which their oldest two children, Dylan, 15, and Alex, 13, were marching.
When the unit finally appeared and then happened to stop directly in front of the Layells, a proud dad couldn’t help himself. Kevin Layell called out to Dylan and Alex and was met by the looks that only teenagers can give their parents.
“Absolute embarrassment,” Kevin Layell joked. But “that’s part of the joys of parenting.”
He added, “as embarrassed as they are, they love it.”
The parade’s grand marshals were Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of “Hidden Figures,” and Christine Darden, a former NASA aeronautical engineer and mathematician.
It also featured Richmond Christmas Mother Ann Parker Gottwald, as well as the big man himself — Santa — who’s always at the end of the parade.
Other groups included Red Crooked Sky, a Native American ensemble in full traditional garb; Virginia Commonwealth University’s pep band, the Peppas; a trolley carrying Chick-fil-A cows; costumed members of the Virginia Renaissance Faire; and many more.
Well before the parade started, the Roberts family of Mechanicsville — Jason and Heather and their two children, Anthony, 7, and Pepper, nearly 18 months — scoped out a spot along the curb near Broad and Foushee streets. They were prepared for the hours that followed with snacks, blankets and toys for the kids, plus lots of coffee for the grown-ups.
When asked whether he was excited to see Santa, Anthony simply shrugged, citing “the bands” as his favorite part of the parade.
Just down the street from the Layells sat Geraldine Morgan, fussing with the camera on her cellphone as she also waited to see the TJ marching band. Her grandson is a member of the drum line. Morgan, 72, of Richmond, said she’s been to a Christmas parade every year since she was 14.
“I’ll never miss a parade,” she said.