Christmas parade set for Saturday evening

By Rozella Hardin
STAR Staff
rhardin@starhq.com

   Ole' Santa will make a guest appearance at Elizabethton's annual Christmas parade, which will be held Saturday, beginning at 5 p.m.
   The theme of this year's parade is "The Night Before Christmas." Due to the refurbishing of the Elk Avenue Bridge, which is closed to traffic, this year's parade route has been changed. The staging area for the parade will be between Roan Street and Lynn Avenue on West Elk Avenue near the old Paty building.
   Parents who have children in the parade are asked to drop them off in the Farm Bureau parking lot or on East C Street behind Farm Bureau.
   The parade route will extend east on Elk Avenue through downtown to the Elk Avenue Bridge at Riverside Drive, where units will disband. To make things orderly and convenient, marching units are asked to turn right on Riverside Drive, and floats are asked to turn left.
   This year's Grand Marshal will be Willie Church, local educator, who, before his retirement from the Elizabethton City School System, taught for a number of years at T.A. Dugger Junior High School. Church taught and coached for 32 years in the Elizabethton system.
   He is presently the assistant principal at Providence Academy, a private Christian school in Johnson City. Church is very active in the Elizabethton Twins Baseball program and the city's Parks and Recreation program. He is an active member of First Baptist Church. "His contributions to Elizabethton have been many, especially to the youth of this town," a Chamber of Commerce spokesman said.
   Organizations, churches and businesses that have floats are asked to pay a $10 entry fee, which will go entirely to the Community Christmas Basket Fund. Trophies and prizes will be awarded in several float categories.
   Among the entries in this year's parade are the Elizabethton High School Band, the T.A. Dugger Junior High School Band, and bands from each of the county high schools. And, of course, Ole' Santa, one of the major attractions of the parade, will be riding on one of the city's fire trucks.
   As of late Tuesday, entries had been submitted for 26 floats. "We expect this to be one of our biggest parades ever, and a large crowd is expected with a good weather forecast," said a Chamber spokesman. Temperatures Saturday are expected to be in the 60s.
   Parade entries, which will be judged for prizes and awards, are asked to arrive early as judging will take place at 3 p.m. Floats can start lining up as early as noon.
   Three port-o-lets will be placed at strategic downtown locations for this year's parade. Port-o-lets will be located at the Farm Bureau parking lot, at the Pine Street parking lot off Elk Avenue and on North Riverside Drive.
   City Police Chief Roger Deal said the parade route this year is more compatible to traffic, going west to east, rather than east to west as it has in the past. "We don't foresee any traffic problems. However, we will have officers at strategic intersections," the chief said.
   Parking is available in a number of downtown parking lots, namely the First Christian Church parking lot, First Baptist Church parking lot, First United Methodist Church parking lot, the public library, and city parking lots on Pine Street, Sycamore Street, and City Hall.
   Following the parade, Food for the Multitude will host a spaghetti supper at Memorial Presbyterian Church from 5 to 7:30 p.m. "This is our only fund-raiser for the year," said Dick Smith, who is coordinating the supper. "The menu is spaghetti, salad, bread, dessert and a drink. Tickets are $4 for adults and $2.50 for children."