Christmas parade and festival take place Saturday
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Dec 18, 2013 | 1283 views |  0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Keith Word announcing the parade from the gazebo. Photo: Anita Kilgore/The Jacksonville News
Keith Word announcing the parade from the gazebo. Photo: Anita Kilgore/The Jacksonville News
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Saturday was a fine day to celebrate Christmas in Piedmont, according to Keith Word, who served as master of ceremonies for the parade.

A Christmas festival began at 10 a.m. at the Clyde H. Pike Civic Center. About 25 vendors were there serving lots of food, including chicken and dumplings. There were all kinds of jewelry, including beads, earrings, and necklaces, as well as arts and crafts and Christmas decorations for sale.

Piedmont Holiness Church brought baked goods as did Heather Smyth and her Taekwondo group. Senior citizens began serving chili at noon and served for the rest of the day.

Word said he was thankful the rain held off for the parade, which was at 5 p.m.

“By 4 o’clock, there was no rain,” he said. “Not even a mist. It actually ended up being a perfect day for a parade.”

The parade started at the National Guard Armory and ended at the civic center. Calhoun County Commissioner Rudy Abbott was the grand marshal.

“Just as he does in anything,” said Word, “Rudy did a good job for us.”

Parade entries were down this year because of the weather. According to Word, there were 50-60 entries instead of the usual 75-85, a number he said he’s happy with.

“Everything ran smoothly,” he said. “You couldn’t have asked for it to have been any better. Some who had signed up didn’t show up because they weren’t sure what the weather was going to do.”

Word said parade units included scouts, churches, businesses, Piedmont High School’s band and cheerleaders, beauty pageant winners, two fire trucks, two rescue squad vehicles, two fire trucks from the White Plains Voluntary Fire Department, the Piedmont Throttle Kings, and the Cherokee Car Cruisers, which he recruited several years ago. Also in the parade was the city’s new John Deere Gator, used for search and rescue, which was purchased with a grant.

After the parade, everyone adjourned back to the civic center, where more chili was served by senior citizens and Word announced the parade winners.

The most original entry went to Bethel Family Worship Center, whose pastor is Rev. Sherry Donaldson.

The Pool Doctor won in the best theme category.

Best overall entry was Friendship Friday Youth Group of River East Baptist Church in Gadsden.

Honorable mention went to Seventh Day Adventist Church, whose pastor is Ricky Blythe.

Ben Singleton and Carl Hinton coordinated the parade, while Dan and Carolyn Freeman were in charge of the festival at the civic center.

When Word was asked to chair the parade in 2005, he said he immediately recruited Ben Singleton. Health problems caused Word to miss being master of ceremonies in 2011. He came back in 2012 and has been onboard for the past two years, sitting in on meetings prior to the parade and festival.

“I enjoy doing it,” said Word. “It’s one of my social networks now that I’m retired.”

Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com.
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Christmas parade and festival take place Saturday by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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