The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

December 12, 2013

County dedicates new Christmas tree, parade draws 170-plus entrants

— County officials dedicated the new permanent Christmas tree prior to Thursday’s Reliance Bank Christmas Parade in Athens.

By mid-afternoon, a record 170-plus parade entrants lined up at Athens High School, with hundreds of vehicles parked along the parade route more than four hours before the parade started.

In downtown Athens, officials lit the nearly 6-foot Yoshino Japanese cedar about an hour before the floats wound around the downtown Square on a clear night with temperatures in the mid-30s.

The Wooley Springs Baptist Church choir sang several Christmas carols from the steps of the Limestone County Courthouse and vendors sold light-up antlers, hot dogs and hot chocolate.

Parade officials announced the Friends of Ripley won the grand prize for the best float. The Ripley float, which is organized by dozens of friends and families from the Clements community, showcased this year’s parade theme, “A Storybook Christmas,” by showcasing the animated TV special, “A Year Without Santa Claus.”

Clements student Kassy Craig, 12, said she has participated in the Ripley float “for as long as she could remember.”

“Being in the parade and sometimes winning is fun,” said Craig, who said the float participants celebrate by going to Pizza Hut.

The county planted the permanent young tree in late October to replace the previous custom of bringing in a temporary, full-grown tree. The new tree is expected to grow to about 22 feet.

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