Parade expected to draw large crowd Saturday
by Jesse Campbell, Staff Reporter
With the area’s Halloween festivities in the rearview mirror, the public’s attention now turns to the upcoming Holiday Parade Saturday.
It is sponsored by Parker Tie Hardware and organized by the West Jefferson Lions Club.
As with tradition, the holiday season in Ashe County kicks-off with the annual downtown parade themed “Holiday Homecoming.” The parade will begin on South Jefferson Avenue at 2 p.m. and run through the route of downtown West Jefferson on Main Street before concluding past the Southern States parking lot.
This year’s holiday spectacle marks the 48th time the parade has entertained spectators along the downtown route and will be led by Grand Marshal George Hamilton IV. Hamilton is world renowned as the “International Ambassador of Country Music” and performs regularly at the Grand Ole Oprey in Nashville. Although Hamilton has traveled worldwide and entertained audiences in the hundreds of thousands, he has a close connection to Ashe County as he and his brother, Cabot, frequented the Beaver Creek community in their childhood.
The entertainer will also be performing a short number as a “teaser” during the parade for his concert later that evening at the West Jefferson United Methodist Church entitled “Thanksgiving in the Country: Songs and Stories of Pilgrims, The Mayflower, and the First American Thanksgiving.” The proceeds raised from the benefit concert will go toward the library’s ongoing expansion project.
Currently, the library has raised over $300,000 for the expansion project and according to Jim McQueen of the Ashe County Public Library, the library is expected to be completed in 2009. Crews are now in the process of laying bricks and preparing for the installation of windows. McQueen went to express his gratitude to George Hamilton IV for providing his time and talents for this year’s concert.
“I’m really looking forward to it and we are very appreciative to George, Cabot, and 580 WKSK for sponsoring the event,” McQueen explained.
The parade is being coordinated by the West Jefferson Lions Club and according to the club’s president, Pete Yates, this year’s parade will be, “the largest crowd we have ever had.” To date, there have been 100 float entries for the parade and coordinators are urging guests to arrive early to assure an adequate space as town officials are expecting near capacity numbers for the star studded event.
Antique cars will cruise through downtown as well to provide a taste of eras long forgotten and riders on horseback will entertain equestrian lovers. Dancers from Dancin’ Debbie’s who have practiced for the event are also expected to perform at the parade. Members from the various county fire departments will be showcasing over $2 million worth of trucks and equipment as area children will likely flock to the sidewalk’s edge to capture a glimpse of the bright trucks and brilliant flashing lights. Ashe County’s JROTC Color Guard, who will be presenting the colors, will be accompanied by the high school’s award winning Husky Vanguard Marching Band, led by Scott Turnmyre.
Guardsmen from the 1450th North Carolina National Guard will greet parade goers.
Finally, the parade will close with the entrance of a crowd favorite, Santa Claus.
A snow/ice date of Sunday at 2:30 p.m. has been set.
Recently elected county officials, civic club representatives, police officers, and non-profit organization floats will also be participating. For information on the parade of concert contact Pete Yates at (336)-877-0176. For parade line up go to www.westjeffersonlionsclub.org
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