Soldiers in spotlight for Christmas Parade

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Brookhaven Christmas Parade, themed “Onward ChristianSoldiers,” will be one to remember this year, Parade Chairman RitaRich said.

“If you don’t come, you’ll miss the excitement of the beginningof the Christmas season in Brookhaven,” she said.

The parade theme spotlights American troops serving overseas, aswell as those who have served through the years, Rich said. Shesaid members of the Exchange Club will be handing out Americanflags at the post office before the parade for onlookers to wavethroughout.

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“This is for the support of our troops that represent ourcountry,” Rich said. “We always want to pay homage to our men andwomen and people that have served. It’s the least we can do.”

This year’s grand marshal is Chief Petty Officer Brian S. McGee,a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. McGee received the Bronze Starfor actions in Iraq in which he helped capture high-rankingal-Qaeda militants, train Iraqi Army personnel and save the livesof fellow Americans and Iraqi soldiers and civilians.

“It’s not just for our grand marshal that we wave the flags,”Rich said. “This is a way to honor everyone like him. Lots ofpeople have died to give us the right to wave those flags.”

The festivities begin with the Fire Brigade, which featurestrucks from area volunteer fire departments, at 6:45 p.m. Theparade itself begins at 7 p.m.

There will be plenty to look at this year, Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce officials said.

“We have a good number of entries,” said Chamber Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield.

Among those things are the grand marshal and Miss MerryChristmas Bethany Crawford. Miss Mississippi Anna Tadlock will alsobe on hand for the parade, as well as a possible appearance by theJackson State University and Copiah-Lincoln Community Collegebands, among others.

Rich said chamber-sponsored floats and displays will ride at thefront of the parade, with everyone else going on a first-come,first-served basis.

“We’ll be giving out numbers for judging purposes only,” Richsaid. “We’re not trying to line them up by that order, and we hopethey’ll adhere to that policy.”

And things are falling into place, Rich said. It even looks likethe weather might behave.

“It’ll be cold, but at least it doesn’t look like it’ll beraining,” Rich said.

Meanwhile, the Brookhaven Police Department will have officerson hand to maintain the new ban on horses and all-terrain vehicles,Rich said.

But in spite of some discussion of the exclusion of the horsesand ATVs, Rich said there will be plenty to see in this year’swinding, traveling Christmas extravaganza.

“People put a lot of effort as far as these floats andautomobiles and the bands and different groups,” she said. “Peopleput a lot of work into the parade and we need to support them,because we’re supporting our city and county.”