BLADENBORO – In what may have been the largest parade seen in Bladenboro, folks turned out in droves Saturday to officially welcome in the Christmas season.
“I think the parade this year is bigger than it’s ever been,” said onlooker Ikey Feltwell.
Guests lined the streets for the full 1.5 miles of the parade route. Beginning at Fresh Foods, participants paraded down Seaboard before turning right on Hwy. 242 and ending at the historical building. From the time the first fire truck made its way down the route until the last horse came through, an hour’s worth of entrants waved, sang, danced, wished merry Christmas, or otherwise greeted guests. Children and adults like came armed with bags, boxes, or pouches to scoop up candy thrown by paraders.
Vicki and Lauren Clark, who participated in the 2016 season of “The Biggest Loser,” were the parade’s grand marshals.
As usual, the Sudan Shriners made a large showing. Not only did they bring their mini cars and 18-wheelers and entertain guests with loops and figure eights, they also had an additional entry featuring a white stretched limo broadcasting “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” while tuxedo-clad club members buzzed around on Segways. A third Sudan group had a Jed Clampett-like truck pulling a trailer with an outhouse. Participants dressed in hillbilly attire and interacted with guests while the Beverly Hillbillies theme played.
Marching bands from East Bladen and West Bladen belted out Christmas favorites like Jingle Bells, Jolly Old St. Nick, and Gloria. Elected officials, beauty pageant queens, classic cars, business and civic groups, churches, dance teams, and party entertainers wowed guests with their singing, dancing, and creativity.
Prior to the appearance of the party entertainers, 3-year-old Maison Tyndall was being comforted by her mother because she was afraid of clowns. However, when Port City Clowns came through, Maison ended up giving one of the clowns a hug with a big smile on her face.
“They were sooooo funny,” she said after the clowns made their way down the street.
An impressive showing was made by Baldwin Branch Missionary Baptist Church. Known for its men’s singing groups, the church opted to show off its twirling ensemble, made up of about 30 women and girls of all ages.
Temperatures for the day hovered around 50 degrees under sunny skies. However, a crisp breeze had many people at the start of the parade route taking to their cars rather than standing.
“I love parades,” said Ann Montgomery, who had come with her eight grandchildren. “They get you in the Christmas spirit.”
The hour-long show ended with horses and buggies, and as the last clip-clops faded away, so did the crowd.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.