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‘It’s Aiken’: Annual Hoofbeats and Christmas Carols parade evokes holiday spirit

December 16, 2018

It’s hard to say what the biggest hit was: Was it the horses? Or the costumed dogs? The candy, caroling or Christmas spirit?

On Saturday afternoon, the 10th annual Hoofbeats and Christmas Carols parade meandered its way through downtown Aiken, making pit stops at Trinity on Laurens and The Willcox and then looping back.

Luckily, the otherwise blustery weather cleared right in time for the parade.

Dozens of horses – adorned with bells, antlers, bows, you name it – clopped along, some pulling carriages, others carrying children dressed as Santa’s little helpers. Full-grown elves strolled alongside some of the horses, handing out candy to eager parade watchers lining Barnwell Avenue, Park Avenue and Laurens Street.

Behind the horses came the dogs, all breeds, shapes and sizes. Some wore candy-cane-colored sweaters; others sported coats reminiscent of Mrs. Claus’ crushed velvet cloak.

Carolers could be heard from blocks away as everyone’s Christmastime favorites were belted out from a float pulled by horses.

Near the front of the parade was Tori McMillen, dog at her side. When asked why she was participating in the parade she said, “Why not?”

“It’s Aiken,” McMillen continued, smiling. “It’s fun.”

The uniquely Aiken – uniquely equestrian – event began at 2 p.m. and came to a close around 3:30 p.m.

Horses and riders were staged near the Adath Yeshurun synagogue, and dogs and their handlers were staged at Trinity on Laurens, much to the delight of nearby residents.

The Aiken Department of Public Safety helped escort the parade. Drivers who were stopped as a result were quick to bust out their phones for a picture or two.

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