Unseasonably warm weather, marching bands, fire trucks, Santa Claus, and neighborly front porch gatherings were the ingredients for Tarboro’s annual Christmas parade on Main Street Sunday afternoon.
“It was a beautiful day for a parade, a little more than 100 units, too,” said master of ceremonies John Moore. “It’s always fun to see people get excited at a parade. The crowd was very responsive to the pre-parade and that makes a big difference. The park [Town Common] was filled up by 1 o’clock.” The parade got under way at 2 p.m.
“Interacting with the crowd” was Moore’s son, Cameron Moore’s, favorite part of the parade.
“The bands are always fun, and the first-place dance studio — Musick’s Dance Arts Center. We really enjoyed them,” said Heather Driver, parade judge. The dancers did somersaults and waved their pom-pons in front of the judges’ stand, set up on the Town Common.
SouthWest Edgecombe High School earned the recognition of first-place band in this year’s parade. Other bands participating were Tarboro High School and SouthEast Halifax High School.
The second-place float in this year’s parade was the festive Free Union Missionary Baptist Church float, which featured a Christmas tree with all the trimmings, bells, red tinsel, a fireplace mantel with stockings cutout scene, and children atop the float wearing Santa hats. Taking third place in the parade was Abrams’ patriotic red, white and blue float featuring Wanetta Knight singing “God Bless the USA.”
“It was the most original in the Christmas parade,” said Ann Adams, parade judge.
“We honored the sheriff’s department, fire and rescue, highway patrol, police department and all military,” said Barbara Hines of Abrams. “All these people are very special to us. They put their lives on the line every day for us.”
Abrams’ recognition of fallen heroes was Main Street resident Hildegrad Brock’s favorite part of the parade.
“I thought the recognition of the fallen heroes was especially significant. That was special,” Brock said. “I’m a veteran [of the Navy] myself.”
Brock also enjoyed seeing the jeep from the veterans military museum driven by World War II veteran O.F. Thompson, and waving to the parade participants she knew as they passed her by. “It’s always a lot of fun,” she said. “It just gets the season off on a good foot.”
Beth and David Jones, Tarboro residents, watched the parade on the Town Common with their children.
“I liked the Boy Scout float with the tent on the back of it,” said David.
Beth said she liked seeing “what companies are in town” and hearing the drums of the marching bands. Her 11-year-old son Preston Reynolds said the “Vikings Marching band” from Tarboro High School was his favorite part of the parade.
“The bands and the cars” are Keith Vines’ favorite parts of a Christmas parade. Vines said he and his wife Notasha, of Bailey, “love parades” and have been to Christmas parades in Greenville, Knightdale and Zebulon this year.
As the parade made its way down the street, Bill and June Leland were having their traditional parade “porch party” at their home on the 800 block of Main Street.
“We’ve done this every year,” Bill said. “I like seeing all the way from the Tarboro football team to the young scouts [in the parade]. It’s a good way of celebrating the town and the importance of community and diversity.”
Lynn Taylor, owner of Rex Jewelers on Main Street Tarboro, joined the porch party at the Lelands’ home prior to the parade.
“I think this gets everybody in the Christmas spirit,” Taylor said. “I think it makes people appreciate what we have. I think it’s when people get together like this that they realize there’s a lot to be thankful for.”
Among the things that Taylor is thankful for are Tarboro’s “thriving downtown” and the “family bond” that Tarboro residents share.
June was pleased with the fair weather at this year’s Christmas parade, recalling the rain at last year’s parade and being “hunkered down under umbrellas.”
“I think the parade went very smoothly,” said parade coordinator Bobbie Martin of the Tarboro Edgecombe Chamber of Commerce.