Many small Southern towns kick off the month of December with a Christmas Parade. It could be on a bright Saturday morning, or it could be on a Thursday evening so the lighted town decorations can be seen. Either way, there are certain things you’ll almost always see.
1. Leading the parade, usually on the back of a convertible, will be the Grand Marshall. Sometimes, it will be the Mayor or a local celebrity, like the news anchor from Channel 5. A few towns are lucky enough to have famous people who come home for Christmas and are glad to do the honors of smiling, waving, and tossing candy canes to the kids. It could be anyone from a NFL player to a NASA astronaut.
as the Grand Marshall of the 2008 Surfing Santa Beach Parade on Pensacola Beach.
2. Somewhere between the GM and the horses, you’ll find the local High School Marching Band. As a former member of the MCHS Marching Pirates, you pray you’re lined up in front of the horses. Walking in step and formation while playing an instrument, trying to breathe, and avoiding manure can be a feat. The band will have mostly memorized one or two Christmas songs and they’ll play them over and over and over. The color guard will have worked out a simple yet beautiful red and green flag routine with a few dance steps thrown in for good measure. If you’re lucky, the drum line will perform a special drum only piece that will knock your Christmas socks off.
3. Local horse owners will enter their favorite equines in the parade and go to great lengths to dress them up for the occasion. The riders usually throw candy for the kids and a few unhappy parole violators are put on clean up duty.
4. Beauty queens are one of the main attractions in Southern parades any time of year. On occasion, the entire court, from Tiny Miss to Miss, will ride together on a float made by the mothers of the Queens and pulled by Daddy’s tractor. Generally, for Christmas parades, they ride on the backs of convertibles their parents beg, borrow, or steal to get. The smart ones throw candy, but they’re so pretty to look at, no one really notices if they forget.
5. The highlight and main attraction of a Southern Christmas Parade is Santa riding on top of a fire truck. The role is often played by the volunteer fireman who draws the short straw. They’ll generally be the skinniest of the men, so they must stuff the Santa suit with a few extra pillows. The speakers will blast Christmas music so loudly it’ll be distorted and barely recognizable. Sometimes, they give Santa access to the microphone and he’ll let loose with an occasional “Ho, ho, ho!” which will both excite and scare the children.
Have you ever been a spectator or participant at a Southern Small-town Christmas Parade? What did you see that I failed to mention?