For close to 30 years, the Beckley Christmas Parade has been a holiday tradition. This year will be no different as residents, businesses, churches, schools and many other organizations gear up to participate.
Parade organizers, the City of Beckley, Beckley Renaissance and Chipley Chiropractic all say this year’s festivities will be a day-long event as there will be a number of events to partake in on Saturday, Dec. 4.
Mountain State University will kick off the festivities by hosting Cookies with Santa at 10 a.m. at the John W. Eye Conference Center. The event will allow participants to decorate cookies and hear a story from Santa.
Beckley Renaissance will hold a Holiday Market where participants can make origami ornaments, shop or join in caroling.
Line-up for the parade will begin at 11 a.m. at Park Middle School. At 1 p.m. the parade will get under way as those involved make their way through uptown Beckley.
Julian Chipley, parade coordinator, says this year participation is growing. However, it’s usually the weather that predicts the parade’s turnout.
“The 2008 parade was probably one of the busiest we’ve ever had,” he explained. “It was 60 degrees and picturesque, but last year was so cold and snowy the turnout was mediocre.”
Chipley also explains why he believes the parade is an important aspect of the holidays in Beckley.
“The parade is a lot of fun and it kicks off the holiday season,” he said. “It’s good for the youth and good for the community in general because it has an old-time feeling to it; it’s a tradition.
“We are losing so much of that in the world we live in today, with Internet and TV,” he continued. “We are losing touch with all those old values and a parade is one of those things that kicks you back to yesteryear. It’s neat to still offer that as a town. Although the city puts this on, people from all over the county participate.”
The honor of the parade grand marshal has been bestowed upon Bill Baker, also the recipient of the 2010 Spirit of Beckley award.
This year, parade organizers decided upon a float theme of “Christmas Through the Years.”
Jill Moorefield, director of Beckley Renaissance, explained.
“We thought it would be a lot of fun to let participants pick a decade and go from there,” she said. “We believe this will offer participants a lot of variations to play with and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.”
Moorefield said floats will compete in four categories: religious, commercial, schools and organizations. Trophies and cash will be awarded to the best overall and the top entries for each category. There will also be awards for top walking unit, animal unit, classic car and bands.
Moorefield said the parade is a chance to show community spirit.
“Not only is participating in the parade really good exposure, but it also shows your community spirit,” she explained. “We do have some awards, trophies and cash to give away for the best floats, but more than anything, if you win, you earn some major bragging rights.”
The deadline to register is Wednesday, Dec. 1.
An awards ceremony with Santa will take place following the parade at the Jim Word Memorial Park gazebo on Neville Street. In conjunction with the parade, a Christmas concert will be held at Beckley Presbyterian Church on South Kanawha Street following the awards ceremony.
Chipley asks those who plan to attend or participate to be mindful of the construction going on in uptown Beckley. Parade traffic will need to continue on down to Robert C. Byrd Drive from Prince Street because Leslie C. Gates Place is narrowed to one-lane, one-way traffic.
Any group interested in participating in the parade may call Linda Carr at 304-256-1750 to request a parade entry package or visit www.beckley.org to access the parade entry form.
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