Christmas Parade to roll Thursday

Published 7:44 pm Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Its decorations have been up for weeks. Black Friday shoppingsprees signaled its beginning.

But in Brookhaven, the Christmas season doesn’t really getstarted until it’s taken to the streets.

The 2010 Brookhaven Christmas Parade will travel throughdowntown Thursday night on its familiar, snaky course, breaking inthe yuletide season with great tradition for children and adults inthe Homeseekers Paradise. The temperature is expected to be aroundthe 47-degree mark and skies will be clear and crisp, setting upgreat conditions for the annual spirited succession.

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“Come out, come early and get your spot,” said Jeff Doremus,president of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.”It’s going to be a lot of fun – it always is. It’s one of thoseannual things we do as a community that brings us all together, andit’s a great gathering.”

The blaring bells and whistles of the fire brigade’s fire truckswill roll first at 6:45 p.m., and the Brookhaven High SchoolPanther Band will step off with the parade in tow at 7 p.m.

The parade will follow its familiar route – starting at thedowntown post office and heading up Cherokee Street to Trustmark;turning right onto Whitworth Avenue; turning left onto ChickasawStreet and crossing the tracks before turning left again ontoRailroad Avenue; turning right at State Bank back onto CherokeeStreet; turning left at First Baptist Church; and making a finalturn left onto Monticello Street, where the parade usually tuckersout near the Lincoln County Public Library.

The man of honor this year is Willie “Doc” Harrison, the cityschool board member, longtime court bailiff and former educator whowill ride front and center as the grand marshal. He was selectedfor the honor because of his long years of service to hiscommunity, but he was blindsided, nonetheless.

“I can think of so many other people that, in my opinion, wouldbe well deserving moreso than me,” Harrison said. “When you thinkof that aspect of it, that’s a big honor. Here you are the grandmarshal of the parade – evidently somebody thinks a lot of you tonominate you for that category. It’s an honor for someone to havethat kind of trust in you.”

Harrison will preside over what parade chairman Rita Richexpects to be a lengthy affair this year, with around 30 floatspredicted to participate. That number would trump last year’ssmaller-than-normal total of 22.

“We’ve had floats in the 30s and even up in the 40s,” she said.”Floats are one of the aspects that make a parade. We’ll have themstaggered throughout.”

But even if floats are up, marching bands – the most importantelement of a parade, Rich said – will be down again. BHS will leadas always, and will be joined by bands from Alexander Junior HighSchool, Loyd Star Attendance Center and Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege.

“We probably won’t hear from any other colleges,” she said.”Budget cuts mean cuts to programs, and a lot of the bands don’thave the money unless they have a really good booster club. I’vealways said bands make the parade.”

Rich reminded those planning to attend the parade to dresswarmly and keep an eye on their children.

“Public officials throw candy, Santa throws candy, lots ofpeople throw candy – they need to understand that when you throwcandy, children might go into the street,” she said.

And if anyone wants a crash course in parade management, thechamber is still looking for volunteers to help coordinate theevent.