12-05-12-rotary-parade.gifThe 13th Annual Christmas Parade will be stepping off at 10:45 a.m. on Dec. 8, come rain, snow or shine. The parade is sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Fayetteville, West Fayetteville and the Lafayette Chapter. According to Matthew Smith Jr., parade co-chair, the event has grown from 55 entrants in 2000 to 110 entrants in 2012 and this year’s event promises to be one of the best.

The parade assembles at the Cumberland County Courthouse parking lot and will proceed down Person Street and turn onto Hay Street. It will pass the reviewing stand located in front of the Cumberland County Arts Council continuing up Hay Street and concluding at the train station. The parade route is approximately three-quarters of a mile and will not be crossing any train tracks. It is scheduled to be two hours in duration and will be broadcast live by Time Warner Cable News 14 and available on-demand two days later.

“Over the past 13 years we have had several unique and interesting entrants. Of note, two come to mind. Two years ago there was a full complement of Star Wars characters and some of the costumes cost more than $1,000. The children screamed their appreciation. The Cumberland County Parks and Recreation Department had a float with spinning Christmas trees, water fountains and a cabin with smoke curling from the chimney. We are always curious as to what they will come up with next,” said Smith.

There will be 10 high school bands represented and each year the Rotary Club invites the local elementary schools to select one student to ride on each of the floats. This invitation provides the child with ‘a-once-in-a-lifetime experience’ and a memory they will talk about for years. A parade could not be successful without volunteers and each year. Rotarack, the college-age Rotary auxiliary from Methodist University, has been essential in providing logistical support. Other volunteers come from a cross section of the city’s residents.“

The parade has had its humorous moments. Several years ago a pick-up truck made it onto the parade route and drove in the opposite direction for the duration of the parade. There was also a man who snuck on to the parade route with a pony wearing poorly attached antlers. Neither were registered to participate. And of course, marching behind horses can be daunting so we had to insist that every entrant who used horses came equipped with a person armed with shovel and bag walking directly behind,” Smith said. “This has been a labor of love over the past 13 years and we are thankful for the continued support of the Cumberland County residents, businesses and volunteers. We look forward to another memorable event this year and after all, everybody loves a parade,” he added.

For more information, visit the Christmas Parade website at www.rotarychristmasparade.com.

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