This year’s Christmas Parade will feature ‘Message of Hope’

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 17, 2001

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, BrookhavenChristmas Parade organizers say the annual event will focus on “AMessage of Hope” when it rolls through downtown on Nov. 29.

“We thought that would be a good theme after the crises,” saidParade Chairwoman Rita Rich, adding that float designers will havea variety of options. “That can be whatever their interpretation of’A Message of Hope’ is.”

Recent events have brought a renewed appreciation for emergencyservices personnel. The parade will look to recognize localcitizens who put their lives on the line to help others.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Former Police Chief Fred McKee, who retired earlier this yearafter 36 years with the department, will be this year’s grandmarshal.

“It’s our way of honoring him as a long-time public servant,”Rich said.

Sheriff’s department and emergency medical services will also berecognized in the parade, Rich said. And, as usual, city andvolunteer fire department trucks will lead the parade.

“They’ll have the opening spotlight,” Rich said.

Others to be featured in the parade include Miss Mississippi,the state Miss Hospitality plus local pageant and contestwinners.

The crowning of Miss Merry Christmas is just around the corner.The contest is scheduled for Oct. 29 at the chamber ofcommerce.

The contest is open to Lincoln County girls age 17-20 and theentry deadline is Oct. 26. Applications are available at thechamber office.

In addition to riding in the parade, Miss Merry Christmas willalso represent the chamber at holiday functions during November andDecember.

“She’ll be available to any business for any open house or eventif they would like her to be there,” Rich said.

The parade will follow its usual route, starting on CherokeeStreet and winding through downtown to end on Monticello Street.Rich said she is asked about the route often.

“That’s probably the best route,” she said. “People arecreatures of habit, and they have a tradition about where theystand.”

Plans are still undecided, but Rich said organizers areconsidering other ways of featuring local elected officials whowill be invited to ride in the parade.

“And of course, we’ll have Santa Claus in his sleigh and the LesBelles in their elf suits,” Rich said.

Local bands will also be in the parade. Rich said the JacksonState University band has called about being in the parade but hasnot committed yet.

Rich was hopeful for good band participation and more floatsthis year.

“To me, that’s what makes a parade: bands and floats,” saidRich, who has been parade chairwoman since 1993.

In light of last month’s events, Rich was looking for a veryspecial parade this year. She mentioned a new sense of togethernessthat she hoped would be evident in the parade.

“Not only is there unity in the country as a whole, but alsounity in Brookhaven and a sense of caring,” Rich said.