The clattering of horse hooves and wagon wheels Saturday brought the past to life in downtown Lawrence during the annual Eldridge Hotel Old Fashioned Christmas Parade.
More than 100 carriages and wagons of all types and sizes - most decorated for Christmas - rolled by crowds gathered along both sides of Massachusetts Street, from Seventh and 11th streets.
Many of the onlookers were wide-eyed children, including 5-year-old Sarah Maddock of Topeka. The girl pointed to a stuffed Santa Claus sitting in the back of a covered wagon as she stood next to her father, Tim Maddock.
"It's just nice to have an old-fashioned parade like this," Tim Maddock said. "We're just missing the snow, but then it would be too cold."
Sun and 40-degree temperatures helped lure some to the parade, such as Ed Ramey, Lawrence, who was attending for the first time.
"We just thought we'd come down this year," he said. "There are a lot of big-old, pretty draft horses."
Megan Dominik, 6, of Lee's Summit, Mo., was riding in the parade for the first time. A year ago, she and her mother, Brenda Dominik, watched the parade and dreamed about being in it.
"Our dream came true," Brenda Dominik said as she stood next to her daughter, who was perched on the back of Fancy Katy, a registered half Arabian, half paint horse.
Betsy Six, Lawrence, and her three children, Emily, 4, Sam, 3, and Henry, 10 months, watched as the wagons and horses lined up before the parade.
"This is highly entertaining for the young and old alike," Betsy Six said.
Her father-in-law, Kansas Supreme Court Justice Fred Six, agreed.
"There are just an infinite variety of wagons and horses here," he said. "There are people here from all over. It gives us a view into the past."
That view into the past is one of the reasons Diane Ransom has returned to ride in the parade for the past five years. The owner of Ransom Carriages, Ottawa, was holding the reins to a big percheron horse connected to a reproduction turn-of-the-century driving carriage.
"People get to see the many different ways horses were used and how much we used to depend on them," Ransom said.
The parade, first organized in 1993 by Rob Phillips, general manager of the Eldridge Hotel, has a shaky future without financial assistance. Peach Madl, owner of The Sandbar, is in the process of getting more businesses to contribute to help Phillips pay expenses associated with the parade.