Saint Nick visits Greenville early for parade

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 8, 2005

Last Saturday morning's weather in Greenville offered brisk, chilly winds whipping golden and red leaves through the air.

It was almost as if Mother Nature was adding her own colorful, seasonal touch to the events of the day, as the young and young-at-heart gathered on Commerce St. for the city's annual Christmas parade, sponsored by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce.

Cindy Byrd Cartwright and her family members were among a number of parade-goers that brought their lawn chairs with them that morning.

&#8220We thought we might as well be comfortable,” Cartwright laughed.

With the parade running a few minutes behind schedule, many folks were seen walking out into the middle of Commerce St., straining ears and eyes in hopes of hearing drums and seeing a few flashing lights.

By 10:15, the eagerly awaited event was underway. The event featured more than 50 entries from the city and county, including police, rescue and fire units along with the Greenville High School Jr. ROTC Color Guard, ROTC Unit and the GHS Tiger Band.

Fort Dale Academy was also well represented by its cheerleaders, twirlers and dance team.

Parade-goers were treated to such colorful sights as Santa's elves, complete with elf hats and shoes, zipping by on motor scooters behind Comfort Care Hospice's float. Comfort Care's float won second place for float entries.

Cissie, the resident canine at Crowne Health Care of Greenville, was dressed in her red-and-white holiday best aboard the nursing home's float, which took first place honors.

Smokey the Bear waved to the crowd from high atop a fire truck, while the Alabama Power &#8220lightning bug” gave high fives to parade-goers along the route.

A float created by the family members of the 117th, the local National Guard unit, featured some of those family members, along with a guardsman proudly sporting his BDUs.

The county's rich agricultural history was spotlighted, with several of the vintage tractors featured at Butler County Old Time Farm Day part of this year's parade.

Winners in the vehicle division were Greenville Parks and Recreation, which took first place, and the Butler County Sheriff's Auxiliary, the second place winner.

&#8220It was a great morning. We appreciate all the people who helped make this another successful parade,” Carol Lee, C of C director, said.

However, the fun wasn't over once the parade had passed by. Santa Claus leftg his perch atop a fire truck and went to Confederate Park to visit with his young fans and pose for photos.

Haleigh Stidham, Miss Alabama USA, was also on hand to sign autographs for fans and visit with Santa, while seven-year-old Ricky Fitzgerald of Montgomery sang for the crowd.

Volunteers from Americorps and W. O. Parmer Elementary provided children's arts and crafts activities, including decorating Christmas ornaments and creating pictures of Christmas trees.

Mary Ann Hamilton and daughter Perry were on hand, serving hot chocolate and freshly popped corn.

Katie Holcomb of Liberty National Life Insurance

and the company's local agents passed out Child-Safe identity kits to parade-goers.

&#8220Our agents passed these out to the crowds before the parade…it's a service we can do for the community and we are glad to be able to do it,” Holcomb said.

Main Street Executive Director Nancy Idland said she hoped to see an expanded version of the post-parade park activities next year.

&#8220We would love to have some of our local merchants and craftspeople come out and share Christmas wares – ornaments, decorative items, Christmas foods and so on – with us on parade day. We could have a full-fledged Christmas village right here in the park,” Idland said.