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Parades kick off season

The day after Thanksgiving may mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, but for many, it is the Christmas parades that mark the beginning of the Christmas season itself. Christmas music never sounds better than it does coming from a marching band, and how can we open the holiday month without ushering Santa Claus into town with all the fun and festivity we can muster?

Tonight marks the first of these local parades, beginning at 7 p.m. in Opp. Tomorrow, we have the Andalusia parade and on Saturday, Florala's. We can understand not getting to every parade, but we encourage everyone to attend as many as possible, even if it's only the one in your own town.

There are many who criticize Christmas from becoming too commercial, and in certain areas, that is all too true. But the Christmas parades are about more than commercial sponsors and the urging to "buy, buy, buy!" In fact, the groups who enter floats often spend far more money - and valuable time! - making their floats than the prize money will ever cover. The parade is about standing bundled up in a chilly wind, shoulder to shoulder with someone who may be a friend, or a complete stranger, someone who can share the moment with you. There are few strangers on the curb, just members of the community, there to share in the glitter and sequins that spangle the season's kickoff.

The crowds of events like the parade rarely have a grasp on the amount of work involved in putting one together, and it is considerable. Ranging from the police officers who have to block off city streets, to the teenagers huddled in a cold barn, stuffing paper napkins into chicken wire for the floats, the workers do it all for a show that lasts a few hours at the most. Once a year. How appropriate it is that these workers are so generous with their time, money and talents to make the season of generosity begin with music, lights, and fun.