Santa Claus, the star attraction, arrives in grand style by horse and carriage. (Photo courtesy City of Ocean City) By Lesley GrahamIt’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas – and not because of the chilly temperatures. The annual Ocean City Christmas Parade on Friday night delighted thousands of spectators, both young and old, with the sights and sounds of Christmas. Families were bundled up to ward off the frigid temperatures, but hearts were warm with all of the festive lights shining. Carols were sung by children in choirs from Upper Township middle and primary schools to the delight of the crowds. If you listened carefully, you could hear a spectator or two joining in on the Christmas classics. Dance groups, in their best Christmas garb, shimmied down Asbury Avenue, keeping in step with the rhythm and four local high school marching bands that lent their musical talents to the parade as well.Festive floats roll down Asbury Avenue. (Photo courtesy City of Ocean City)Thousands of people lined the sidewalks of downtown Asbury Avenue to watch the colorful procession. Ocean City spokesman Doug Bergen said the parade lineup included more than 55 entries and, of course, the main attraction: Santa Claus himself.Delight could be seen on children’s faces with the wonderment that is the Christmas season. The twinkling lights adorning Asbury Avenue added to the magic of it all.Emma Hale was looking forward to seeing Santa. But the 2-year-old also came for the puppies. Her mother, Jenn Hale, of Northfield, brought Emma last year to start a holiday tradition.“What is better than puppies and Santa?” Hale said.The look of holiday wonder is evident on the face of little Grayson Moss of Somers Point.Grayson Moss, of Somers Point, was enjoying the parade with his parents, Gayle and Robbie Moss. Grayson wanted to make sure he saw Santa so that he knows he wants a helicopter for Christmas.“It’s a great atmosphere for families and a really nice way to kick off the holiday season,” Gayle Moss said.The parade was enjoyed not just by little ones. Wendi Cook and her sister, Jill Storz, have been coming to the parade since 1981.“Even when we don’t have kids around, it’s fun and it’s festive, but most importantly, it’s tradition,” Cook said.Everyone waited anxiously for the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus, who anchored the parade in horse and carriage. And as they drove away, out of sight, you could hear them say, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”Spectators watch the parade unfold along downtown Asbury Avenue.Carolers sing traditional Christmas songs in front of City Hall as crowds stop to listen. (Photo courtesy City of Ocean City)Miss Ocean City Megan Keenan is carried along the parade route in a beach patrol lifeboat.Parade participants include marchers of the four-legged variety.