After a change in format because of the pandemic and a change of date because of the weather, the drive-thru "reverse" Warrenton Christmas parade drew hundreds of vehicles to the WARF parking lot Saturday night to wave to the two-dozen-or-so floats assembled there. And, of course, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus were the stars of the evening, waving to passersby from the top of a classic fire truck.
The parade was originally scheduled to take place Friday evening in Old Town Warrenton, but it was moved to Saturday because rain was expected that evening. The change didn't seem to effect turnout. Even an hour after the parade began, traffic was still backed up to intersection of Broadview Avenue and U.S. 17, more than one and a half miles from the WARF, as vehicles lined up to see the displays.
The highlight of the show was the 1968 Peter Pirsch fire engine owned by the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Company -- and where Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus perched for the evening. The truck was a last-minute addition to the parade; WVFC firefighter Michael O'Bannon said that everyone at the station chipped in to decorate the engine that afternoon.
He was beaming. "I love to see people's smiles as they go by," O'Bannon said. "That's what makes it worth it."
As icing on the Christmas cake, the engine received the Clark Griswold award, a nod to Chevy Chase's Christmas-obsessed character in the 1989 film "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation."
Another float featured a pair of Santa's reindeer that looked suspiciously goat-like. The float received the judges' award; it was sponsored by Nuttin' but Kids, a Fauquier County 4-H club dedicated to learning how to care for dairy goats.
Gaila Grooming, a pet grooming service in Warrenton, got the "most original" award for its float featuring several live dogs, lots of people dressed up like pets, and even Elmo.