Sunday, November 19, 2006

2006 Reidsville Christmas Parade

Last night at about 6:30, the 2006 Reidsville Christmas Parade - the first-ever night-time Christmas parade in the city's history - kicked off. The parade organized in the Pennrose Mall/Turner Drive part of town and progressed down Scales Street toward the downtown area. And Lisa and I were there to watch it all. Actually since it was WGSR Star 39 - the TV station that I work at - who was in charge of the parade this year, I've been able to watch everything behind the scenes about it for the past few months now. I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon helping with getting floats situated in the staging area. And I could have taken part in the parade... but I chose instead to watch it with Lisa.

Okay well, on with the pics!

This first pic is of Ken Echols, co-host of WGSR's popular Monday Night Live. Ken should not be confused with his neer-do-well brother Fred Echols who is sometimes heard on the radio...

Here's Lisa. Now I wish that I'd gotten her to take my pic too while we were there. Since it was cold and some headgear was called for, I wore my fedora to the event.

Ken Echols and Mark Childrey - the hosts of Monday Night Live - perched atop the scaffolding from which they were doing live TV commentary about the parade. The WGSR crew was up 'til 5 a.m. Saturday morning, then got a few hours sleep and was soon back at it later Saturday morning getting everything ready to televise the parade live. I've never seen a city street covered with so much cable. Anyway, Ken and Mark were in fine form as usual last night.

Looking down the street toward the direction the parade would come in from.

The man who put it all together: WGSR Star 39 General Manager Charles Roark. Charles had been working for months getting this parade together. He was running one of the cameras down on the street last night.

It was sometime after 7 when the parade reached the downtown area, headed up by a police cruiser followed by these JROTC cadets.

Calvin and Lisa Phelps, the Grand Marshals of the 2006 Reidsville Christmas Parade. It was Calvin Phelps who bought and re-opened the Chinqua-Penn Plantation... something that a lot of people around here thought would never happen again.

Local singing sensation Cindy Price. That car looked hot! Cindy doesn't look too bad herself :-)

The Reidsville Senior High School Marching Band. Conspicuously absent was the Rockingham County Senior High band: believe it or not the administration of RCSH (my alma-mater) wouldn't let their band perform in the parade this year... because they believed it wouldn't be safe for the kids to be out that late at night! I'm not going to comment any further on how ridiculous a thing it was to keep the RCSH band out. But the RSH band played well.

A pack of Cub Scouts.

The Rockingham Theater's float. After the parade the Rockingham Theater (which is located just across the street from where were were standing) had a free showing of It's A Wonderful Life. We didn't go watch it though. Sometime I need to check out the Rockingham Theater again: the first and only time I've ever been in there was when Alien 3 came out in 1992. Maybe if/when my next movie is finished we can premiere it there :-)

Layne's Brothers Pharmacy had their entire flotilla of delivery vehicles scattered across the length of the parade. Alright all together now: "What time is it? IT'S TIME FOR A LAYNE CHANGE!" The brothers never fail to deliver that pun every time they're in the studio doing their show :-)

This next photo requires some explaining to those not from around here. This is part of the Williams-Trull entry. Williams-Trull is a business in Reidsville that sells tractor parts and lawn mowers. This sign - the one saying "MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE FAMOUS SIGN" - has been outside their location for a long time. Well, earlier this year the City of Reidsville started fining them a ton for having an "illegal" sign. It caused quite an uproar, especially when other businesses started getting fine notices in the mail too. Oddly enough, I inadvertently got pulled into the mess when The Baritones premiered and a lot of people noticed that the City of Reidsville had, per their own rules, placed an illegal sign at the Farmer's Market! Well anyway, I think it got resolved somehow but the folks at Williams-Trull couldn't resist making everyone laugh at the city for how it acted during this whole thing.

More of the Williams-Trull float.

Play Paint, a local paintball company. Its marchers were all wielding paintguns and doing fancy moves with them. I was reminded of the "Legitimate Businessman's Association" marchers with Fat Tony and the other Springfield mobsters in the parade from that episode of The Simpsons a few years back.

WGHP Fox 8's Brad Jones, talking to WGSR's Jessica Robinson.

Knutson Landscaping received First Place in the competition for best float. Among other things their float featured a mechanized reindeer pulling Santa out of a chimney.

I forget which dance troupe this is. But you see Charles in there with the camera? My pictures do it no justice: Charles was really boogying with the dancers last night!

The First Congregational Christian Church float.

I forget who had this float. It was really pretty though.

These guys were kewl! It was a group of skateboarders that marched in the parade. They stopped in front of the dignitaries and TV cameras and did some pretty amazing skateboard stunts. A few of them came close to wiping out and eating pavement... but all the same they amazed everyone watching with their tricks.

Cheryl's Dance Center, another dance troupe.

The Wentworth PTA float. I think they earned Third Place in the floats competition.

Ahhhh you knew these guys had to be in there somewhere: its them wacky Shriners! Some years they've come marching in playing band instruments and swinging swords. A few times they've driven carts. This year... they were on mini-motorcycles! They were definitely quite a crowd-pleaser.

More of the Shriners in action.

The Care Kids entry with a mounted group on horseback following close behind.

The High Sheriff of Rockingham County, Sam Page. He's looking pretty sharp on horseback with that Santa hat perched atop his cowboy hat.

Remember a few weeks ago when my photo appeared in The New York Times? Well, I'd been asked to be part of this float but I respectfully declined: I really did want to spend the parade watching it with Lisa instead. But the other two local school board candidates feature in the article - Richard Moore and Eric Smith - came in costumes from their respective commercials on the Neely Chronicle/Political Soup "Big Bad Political Car". The "motif" of this float was "Chosen NY Times Favorite School Board Candidates Who Don't Steal".

And here's another shot of Richard Moore as the "Big Bad Political Car" drove past.

And finally, the grand finale of the parade: Santa and Mrs. Claus! This was the big float that WGSR was sponsoring and I hadn't seen it until the actual parade last night, but I gotta say that's one of the fanciest floats I've seen in this town.

Here's a close-up of the Clauses.

And with that, the 2006 Reidsville Christmas Parade drew to a close. Mark Childrey echoed a sentiment shared by many there last night when he said that this was probably the best Christmas parade that Reidsville had ever put on. It was definitely the most unique in that it was at night, and there were some people wondering how this was going to work out... but when all was said and done, this parade was a rousing success!

Special thanks go out to Charles Roark, Matt Smith, Lori Martin, Debbie Moore, Jimmy DePalma, Jessica Robinson, Mark Childrey, Ken Echols, Tyler Richardson, Bobby Martin, Brandon Lantern, and everyone else who worked behind the scenes to pull it off.

And very special thanks to a lot of good people who I got to meet last night who told me that they'd voted for me :-)


Anonymous said...

How do you follow a wonderful parade like this?

Come see me at 8:30am Monday as I cruise the parking lots where we lined up the parade. I will have shovel in hand, and my job will be to remove the excrement of horses and mules from the sight of patrons of the stores in that area. was steaming that night.

Matt Smith
Parade Manager

Anonymous said...

"And finally, the grand finale of the parade: Santa and Mrs. Claus! This was the big float that WGSR was sponsoring and I hadn't seen it until the actual parade last night, but I gotta say that's one of the fanciest floats I've seen in this town"

That IS a beautiful float. I just cant take my eyes off that picture.