By Kim West
Nonstop phone calls and a steady flow of registration forms are prompting parade organizers to predict a record turnout for this year’s holiday parade.
The 10th annual Reliance Bank Christmas Parade is Dec. 5, with a 6 p.m. start at Athens High School on U.S. 31 with float lineup beginning at 3:15.
“We are excited to celebrate 10 years of success and community support,” said Betty Christopher, who coordinates the parade with Donna Wright for Reliance Bank. “We are anticipating this being the best and largest parade.”
The route will wind west along Hobbs Street, circle the downton Square and go south on Jefferson Street, where the parade will end at Hometown Grocery across from the construction site of the new Athens-Limestone Public Library.
Theme & marshals
Bank officials chose this year’s parade theme, “A Storybook Christmas,” among submissions from students in grades 3-5 in the city and county school systems.
Third-grader Claudia Henson of Julian Newman Elementary and fourth-grader Avery Powers of Creekside Elementary submitted the winning theme. Henson and Powers each won $200 to be split evenly among their classrooms and schools.
In her contest entry, Henson wrote the theme should be “a storybook Christmas, especially since we have a new library opening” in summer 2014.
Christopher said this year’s grand marshal is Dr. Tom Sisk, the second-year superintendent of Limestone County Schools.
“The East Limestone High School band will be the lead marching band this year, and we’ll have about 10 Miss Merry Christmases,” Christopher said. “We’ll have two junior grand marshals that will be chosen by school officials from Tanner High School and Athens Intermediate School.
“Dr. Sisk has been very supportive of the Christmas parade, and his enthusiasm for community success is reflected through his positive role as superintendent.”
The parade attracts a wide range of marching bands, civic clubs, churches, businesses and youth organizations, with many groups competing for the grand prize.
Awards will be given to the top four floats, as well as the best-decorated horse and car. A $1,000 grand prize is up for grabs, with floats being judged for their originality, workmanship, theme portrayal and artistry.
Friends of Ripley, the grand prize defending champion, is one of many floats that seize the attention of parade goers with its large-scale design and Christmas trimmings, said Christopher.
“The Friends of Ripley float always looks like something out of the Macy’s parade,” she said.
Float fees are $55 for businesses, $35 for nonprofits and $35 for cars. Four horses or less can be entered for $25, with $5 for each additional steed.
The float entry deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday, with a $25 fee for late registration. Registration paid on the day of the parade will include a $50 late fee.
For more information, call 256-232-1944.