By Kate Boswell
Spirits are high this week in anticipation of the annual Lexington Christmas Parade on Friday. The parade will form on Wallace Street, along Taylor, and officially begins at 5:30 p.m. at Houston and South Main. It ends on East Henry Street.
Though many eagerly await this event, there is a 90 percent chance of rain on Friday. The parade has no rain date. The parade website says to listen to 3WZ after 2 p.m. on the day of the parade, and check the Rockbridge Alert System for cancellation information.
More than 20 floats, a dozen fire squads, schools, dancers, horses, bands, and many others will participate in the march down Main with Santa Claus himself taking up the rear.
Bob Lera, an individual member of the Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the parade, said, “People from all over turnout for the parade.”
Lera counted more than 1,700 people participating in the parade five or six years ago. Even more come out to watch the parade. He expects a big turnout this year.
Many people camp out early on in the afternoon waiting for the first float to come into sight. Normally, not many college students make it to the parade, but for high school students it is the place to be seen, and the event to see.
Each year the groups making floats tweak their creations to accommodate that year’s theme in hopes of winning one of the judge’s six “best in class” prizes.
The theme of the parade this year plays on the idea of the city as a green gem in an evergreen season. The theme is Lexington: The Jewel of the Shenandoah, An Emerald Christmas.
Lexington, Buena Vista, and the greater Rockbridge area came together about seven years ago to collect over $2,000 to pay for a towering float created by Mark Cline’s Enchanted Castle Studios, Santa’s float, that is the caboose every year. It is the only float in the parade allowed to have a Santa.
The Community Table, a local charity that serves dinner on Mondays to relieve hunger in the area, will pass out clementine oranges instead of candy from its float to stay in their theme of being healthy. The motto for the float is to “take what you need, give what you can,” said board of directors member Montrose Grandberry.
“People use lots of natural materials when making the floats,” said Kay Lera, individual member of the Chamber of Commerce and Bob Lera’s wife.
Buena Vista Rescue Squad, Buena Vista Volunteer Fire Department, Lexington Fire Department, and Effinger Volunteer Fire & Rescue, just to name a few of the fire and rescue units participating, will have 20 vehicles leading the front of the parade.
The Rockbridge Antique Auto Club will have seven vehicles proceeding down the parade route together, and Brandon Ramsey Racing will have a race car from Natural Bridge Speedway.
VMI Band and Corp of Cadets and the Rockbridge County High School Marching Wildcats are two of the five bands participating in the parade.
Another notable float to watch for is the one created by the Night of Miracles, a group in Buena Vista that recreates the town of Bethlehem and the nativity scene on a hill behind the Food Lion.