‘Wonderful’ Christmas parade rolls

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 11, 2000

Natchez residents lined Main Street Sunday to help celebrate the holiday spirit at the annual Natchez Christmas Parade.

Between 60 and 65 entries, including marching bands, floats, motorcycles and cowboys on horseback took part in this year’s parade, said Tammi Mullins, Natchez Downtown Development Association director and parade organizer.

For the first time in memory, this year’s parade was held on a Sunday – an alteration in the traditional event that most agreed worked out well.

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&uot;It’s wonderful having it on Sunday, because it brings everybody downtown to shop afterward,&uot; parade-goer Lil Graning said.

No matter what day of the week, four-year-old Tucker Lewis had been anxiously looking forward to the parade.

&uot;He threw a fit this morning because he wanted to come as soon as he woke up,&uot; said mom Lil Lewis.

It was the first parade of many to come for six-month-old John Alex McCready.

If he could talk, mother Traci said &uot;he would probably say it’s pretty loud,&uot; as she shielded his ears from the chorus of sirens that traditionally mark the parade’s start.

But the noise didn’t seem to bother cousin Taylor Gilbert, 7, who was quick to say her favorite part of the parade was the free candy thrown from passing floats.

Candy was the unanimous favorite from children who ran up and down the parade route clutching plastic bags and darting under the feet of adults as the candy showered down.

Dodging the missile-like candy canes, Millie Rutland found it impossible not to smile. A life-long Natchez native, Rutland said she has enjoyed watching the parade since she was a child.

&uot;I’m a kid at heart still,&uot; she said.

&uot;Even a Scrooge&uot; would have a hard time passing by the festive parade, she said.

This year’s grand marshall, Emmy-award winning producer Jennifer Ogden, said being chosen to lead her hometown parade was an &uot;honor.&uot;

&uot;The Christmas parade is one of my favorite memories,&uot; she said. &uot;Everybody just has so much fun coming out.&uot;

Parade entries were divided into two categories, floats and other, and were judged based on originality, workmanship and keeping with the parade theme, &uot;A Natchez Victorian Christmas.&uot;

This year’s winners in the float category were crowd-pleaser Isle of Capri in first place with its rolling replica of a riverboat, AJFC Head Start in second place and Krewe of Phoenix in third. Honorable mentions were Wild Wild West and Cathy’s Cowboy Corral. Winners of the non-float category were Natchez Drug Awareness Program, first place, Natchez Market, second place, and baton-twirler Carla Moyer, third place.

Judges were Diane Brown, Century 21 Real Estate; Jack Haughton, CEO Natchez Regional Medical Center; James &uot;Ricky&uot; Gray, Natchez alderman, and &uot;Super Kid&uot; Ashley Richardson.

Richardson, 7, was chosen by the Guardian Shelter to judge the parade from a &uot;child’s eyes.&uot;

Andrew Calvit served as parade emcee.