Kern County residents came in droves to downtown Bakersfield on Thursday evening to view the annual Christmas parade.

A heavy rain threatened to dampen the spirits of holiday celebrators, but the weather cleared up by the early afternoon and the festivities went on as scheduled.

“It’s a little chilly, but I’m grateful there’s no rain,” said Evan Sproul, who stood waiting for the parade to begin, holding a banner for the Bakersfield Sister City Project Corp.

It was the second year the organization had participated in the parade. Started in 1961, Sister City fosters connections between Bakersfield and select cities around the world.

Dave Urner, one of the “founding fathers” of the program, was the grand marshal of the parade this year.

Sister City was joined by around 100 other floats, vehicles, marching bands and bicycles, all of them decked out in holiday lights and Christmas cheer, that wound their way down 22nd and L streets.

This year was the first parade in recent history without longtime Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall, who passed away in May of this year.

Hall served as grand marshal of the parade in 2016.

The parade started half an hour earlier than it had in the past. It was a school night, and organizers hoped to get children to bed at a reasonable hour.

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