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Christmas Parade to roll Thursday

The lineup for Thursday night’s Sesquicentennial-themed 2008Brookhaven Christmas Parade is beginning to take shape, withseveral seasoned veterans and a few parade newcomers joining inwhat is expected to be one of the best-attended parades ever.

The Fire Brigade – consisting of volunteer fire departmenttrucks and motorcycles – will roll at 6:45 p.m., and BrookhavenPolice Chief Pap Henderson will lead the parade at 7 p.m. Theparade, lead by Grand Marshal Harold Samuels, will follow the sameroute as last year, starting off by the Brookhaven Post Office andproceeding through downtown.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Christmas ParadeChairwoman Rita Rich said there are 40 individual or group entries,19 floats and seven marching bands signed up as of Wednesdaymorning. More were expected throughout the remaining 36 hours.

“We’ll have more than this,” Rich said as she thumbed through astack of applications. “This is just Tuesday, and there are stillsome floats under construction. Some of them don’t even finish upuntil Thursday morning, and some don’t even show up until rightbefore the parade starts.”

So far, the often-requested Jackson State University MarchingBand has not signed on to the parade. Rich said it is normal forthe Sonic Boom of the South to wait until the last minute beforecommitting to the parade, as the band’s search for paradesponsorship must be guaranteed before traveling.

The one parade entry that many in Lincoln County areanticipating – for better or for worse – is the BudweiserClydesdales and their 1903 Studebaker beer wagon. Since the team’spresence in the parade was announced in late October,Brookhavenites have traded their opinions on beer, horses andChristmas in general around the community.

And while Rich said the economy may cause the overall size ofthis year’s parade may be down a little from 2007, the turnout isexpected to be record-setting, mostly due to Budweiser’s eight,one-ton horses.

“People have said to me they haven’t been to a parade in yearsbecause their children are grown up, but because of the Clydesdales- and the different opinions – they are going to be at this year’sparade,” Rich said.

Rich said her inspiration for bringing the Clydesdales in hadnothing to do with alcohol or religion or influence of any kind -it was just for the horses.

“Those that have actually seen the horses before say they’rejust magnificent,” she said. “I think the crowd will be inawe.”

The Clydesdales will also be on display at the Lincoln CountyMulti-Purpose Facility throughout the weekend. Public hours areFriday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. andSunday from noon to 5 p.m.