They say everyone loves a parade, and thousands of people turned out Saturday for the annual Christmas parade sponsored by the New Tazewell Merchants’ Association.
In a change this year from the past, organizers moved the time to later in the day in hopes of having lighted floats. The theme was “Christmas Lights in the City.”
“We wanted to do something different this year,” said Byron Ament, president of the Merchants’ Association, in the days before the parade.
After a late start - it was scheduled to begin at 4:30 but began a little after 5 p.m. - the numerous motorcycles, cars, and floats made their way up Hwy. 33. The traditional Kerbela Shriners were on hand to entertain the crowd, as well.
By the end of the parade, the sun had set and the lights were visible on the floats - showcasing the hard work many had put into preparing for this year’s event.
“The New Tazewell Merchants Association would like to thank all merchants and participants for making this year’s parade such a great success. Without the local merchants and local industry financially supporting the parade, it would not have been possible,” said Ament. “I would also like to express our appreciation to the City of New Tazewell including the Mayor and City Council as well as the New Tazewell Police Department and New Tazewell Street Department for all their hard work during the parade.”
The reactions from the crowd differed, with some pleased with the night event and some displeased. Several expressed their opinions on the Claiborne Progress Facebook page.
“I think that the time change is awesome. Now you can see the lights in the parade and others can come out and enjoy the parade,” said April Ellis.
“Did not like the change,” said Sheri Painter. “Took forever to start and got colder when the sun went down. Couldn’t see the people in it. I personally prefer it during daylight. It worked well for a lot of years.”
According to the merchants association, this year’s parade was one of the most successful in the parade history.
“We had one of the largest turnouts for the number of participants, a large crowd that turned out to see the parade, and some hardworking volunteers that made this great event so successful,” Ament added. “I would just like to ask the members of our community, when you see a local merchants or industry owner or leader, please express your gratitude for their financial support. It is this support that makes this event possible year after year.”
“At first, I thought it was a very silly idea because it would still be daylight when it started but the way they had the “lights” toward the end of it was BEAUTIFUL! Weather was gorgeous; hope it stays this way for next year!” said Amanda Smith Evans.
In another change, judges made their decisions and awarded prizes before the parade began. The winning floats in both the commercial and religious categories had large ribbons displayed throughout the parade.
Winners for the 2012 Christmas Parade:
Religious Category: 1st Place – Riverview; 2nd Place – Cave Springs; 3rd Place – Lone Holly.
Commercial Category: 1st Place – England / Corsair; 2nd Place – Walker & Walker Construction; 3rd Place – Frostee Freeze.
Car Category: 1st Place – Eddie Hunley; 2nd Place – Mike Hunley; 3rd Place – Mildred Ramsey.
Tractor Category: 1st Place – Thomas Neely; 2nd Place – Thomas Neely; 3rd Place McKamey Derreberry.
“Loved the night parade. The lights on the floats and cars were beautiful,” said Pauletta Beeler. “Yes it was cold, but you plan accordingly when you know you are going to be out in the dark and cold. Change is a good thing sometimes.”
For more photos, see the Nov. 28 edition of the Claiborne Progress.