Last week I sang the praises of the city’s Christmas decorations and celebration. That was before I attended Saturday's Christmas parade, which was also tremendous. It lasted over fifty minutes and it was uplifting to see the amount of community involvement, both in the parade itself and from the large crowd gathered all along the parade route eager to watch. It’s yet another feather in the city's cap and is a part of the big charm that a small town can offer in the Christmas season.
But, I do have one nit to pick about the annual Christmas parade that everybody who works with me has heard me talk about for over a decade. It’s the city’s need to name a theme for the parade every year. My go-to line is this - the Christmas parade already has a theme. It’s Christmas!
Any other distinction placed on the event only limits the creativity of the parade participants. The theme invariably means you have some repeats among the floats. This year’s parade theme was Christmas movies. That, of course, led to multiple Grinches and Polar Expresses.
There is nothing at all wrong with that or those specific floats. It’s just my feeling that, in a Christmas parade, everyone is already dealing with a common theme and it’s unnecessary to limit it further. Just let it be the Christmas parade and, if you want to focus on a Christmas song, that’s great; if you want to focus on a Christmas movie, awesome; if you want to go with a Nativity theme, fantastic. My point is, all of these options are available in the Christmas parade if a theme is not imposed.
In the past, themes have included things such as gingerbread wonderland, songs of Christmas, storybook Christmas, I’ll be home for Christmas (military theme), toyland, movies and Disney. Sometimes the theme of the Christmas parade doesn't even have a tangential connection to Christmas such as 2017 when the theme was superheroes.
To me, possibly the most limiting of the themes came in 2011 when the theme was Dr. Seuss. When you’re talking about Dr. Seuss and Christmas, that pretty much narrows your choices down to The Grinch. Then, in 2019, the city took it one step further by actually making the theme The Grinch. Seriously, how many Grinches do people really want to see in one parade?
I don’t want this to come off as bashing of the city or the parade. I love the parade and appreciate all the hard work that goes into making it happen every year. I just think the city could save itself the stress of thinking of a theme while, at the same time, freeing up all the participants to be more creative and provide a wider range of things to see in the parade.
If the idea is to provide a fresh angle on the parade each year, perhaps we can get back to the practice of naming a grand marshal. I remember when regional celebrities like Bill Hall or local heroes like Lester Strode, fresh off a World Series championship, were given that honor. But that practice has also had its down moments such as the year the grand marshal was simply a teenager in a Grinch mask. How about a themeless Christmas parade with C.J. Taylor as the grand marshal?
Standard Managing Editor Seth Wright can be reached at (931) 473-2191