Panthers, Falcons go in different directions

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons can clinch a playoff spot with a win today at Carolina.

As participants were lining up for the annual Summerville Christmas parade on Sunday morning, spectators already were staking out spots along Coleman Boulevard for the Mount Pleasant parade that night.

Both events drew thousands of people along the main street of each town.

There’s something about the lights at night that really brings out the party spirit in Mount Pleasant.

Spectators along Coleman Boulevard set up tables under pavilions, fired up grills and pulled out huge outdoor heaters. Hundreds turned the space around the big clock at Moultrie Plaza into an outdoor Christmas party.

“This is where it’s at,” said Ronnie Rathbunn of Hidden Cove, manning a table by the clock. “It’s one big party.”

He started setting up at 8 a.m.

“You’ve got to get here early,” he said.

A little ways up Coleman Boulevard toward Sullivan’s Island, Amee Leland was eating humus with family and friends out of the back of a golf cart.

“It’s not Christmas if you don’t go to the Mount Pleasant Christmas parade,” she said.

She used to go to the Charleston parade, which is in the afternoon, but has come to prefer the night parade.

“It’s just more magical,” she said. “Lights are Christmas.”

Many of the floats were indeed impressive, with massive displays of colored lights.

“I love it at night because of the lights,” said Cindy Summers, who was watching with a hot drink in her hand near the Sea Island Shopping Center. “We like to decorate our house up for Christmas, so this is right up our alley.”

Of course, there’s something to be said for an afternoon parade, as well. This was the 11th year in a row for Sherry Burnsworth to watch the Summerville parade.

“This is the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen,” she said.

It was also colder than she remembered, with temperatures in the low 50s.

Cannon blasts, Christmas music and cheers filled the air, as the parade stretched several miles down Main Street and Richardson Avenue.

The theme was “DREAMIN’ of a GREEN Christmas — Recycle, Reuse, Renew.” Many floats were decorated with cans, plastic bottles, paper or used tires.

Participants included school marching bands, local businesses, Town Council members, area radio stations, Scout troops, fire departments and stunt motorcycle riders, as well as the mayor and his wife.

“It’s like a family reunion,” Mayor Bill Collins said after walking in the parade. “This is a fun, family event that everyone can enjoy.”

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553. Allison Nugent contributed to this report.