JINGLE ALL THE WAY: Christmas parades in Natchez, Vidalia this weekend 

Published 1:59 pm Friday, December 1, 2023

NATCHEZ — Two Christmas parades and a Christmas festival take place in the Miss-Lou this weekend, providing family-friendly fun and Christmas cheer for all.

Natchez Christmas parade

Alderman Curtis Moroney, who has for a long time been part of the parade organization process and parade day management for Natchez, said around 25 floats and participants have signed on for the Christmas parade this year, scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2.

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The Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce takes applications, insurance forms and registration fees for the parade through Friday evening during normal business hours.

The application fee is $30. No horses or any animals, ATVs or motorcycles are allowed in the lineup, Moroney said.

“We picked up four more (Friday morning),” Moroney said. “We never know who might just show up.”
To make sure everything goes smoothly and that the parade is rolling on time, Moroney said its imperative that no one park on North Broadway street after noon Saturday and that no one is parked anywhere on Broadway Street or on Main and Franklin streets after 5 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s going to be very difficult for anyone to get to their cars on Broadway after 5 p.m.,” he said, because at that time floats will be lined up all along the street from Roth Hill Road to Madison Street.

The parade starts to roll at 6 p.m. sharp and will traverse up Franklin Street to Rankin Street, down Main Street then left to Canal Street, then onto Orleans Street back over to Broadway Street and from Broadway back to the start point, he said.

Though it’s expected to rain Saturday morning, “The weather looks like it’s going to cooperate and clear up by the evening for the parade,” Moroney said.

Vidalia Christmas parade and festival

There is more opportunity for a merry time at the Vidalia Christmas Parade and a Christmas Festival immediately afterward on Sunday starting at 3:30 p.m.

Vidalia Women’s Club member and organizer Mary Montpilier said floats will start lining up at Vidalia High School at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday and start to roll along Carter Street to the old courthouse at 3:30 p.m.

For many years the parade has gone in the opposite direction, but that changed when the Vidalia Beautification Committee started the Christmas festival in the old courthouse square in 2022, she said.

“We’ll roll along Carter Street straight to the old courthouse where they’re having the festival,” said. This is the second year we’ve done it this way.”

Montpilier said 15 applications had been received from parade participants, “and that doesn’t include some that I know will be there.”

There is no fee for signing up for the Vidalia parade.

“We’re hoping for a good one this year and we’re pretty lenient,” she said. “If you wake up Sunday morning and want to put a float in, we don’t turn anyone away.”

There is one important rule and that is no one can come dressed up pretending to be Santa Claus. There can only be one Santa represented by Santa’s helper Tim Fuqua.

The Vidalia Women’s Club chooses one female Vidalia resident and high school senior to be Miss Merry Christmas.

This year’s Miss Merry Christmas, Anna Claire Jowers, was chosen based on GPA, school and community involvement and has written an essay about why she loves Vidalia which made her a stand-out candidate.

“She will be presented in the parade with a crown and sash right before Santa Claus,” Montpilier said.  

Cassandra Lynch, president of the Vidalia Beautification Committee, said the festival following the parade also includes visits with the parade Santa and a variety of vendors, a bouncy house, hot chocolate courtesy of Farm Bureau, DJ Michelle Chapman and an assortment of games for children. Lynch credited the Beautification Committee’s president last year, Ellen Yates, for the festival’s inception.

Lynch and other Vidalia Beautification Committee members Bonita Cage, Becky Perrault, Georgiana Berry and Alderwoman Rosa Demby worked hard decorating the old courthouse to look its festive best. The entire square is illuminated at night with Christmas lights.

“The purpose is to bring the community together and bring unity among the Miss-Lou area,” Lynch said. “Last year, we had more members to make this happen and have lost some (due to family obligations and illness) but we were determined to keep this wonderful festival alive.”

The Beautification Committee also encourages the spreading of Christmas cheer and decorations throughout the Town of Vidalia with a business decorating competition.

Lynch said judging will take place on Dec. 18 and the winner will receive the Christmas spirit trophy.

“They get the trophy for a year and it moves from one business to the next,” she explained.

Lynch had others to thank for making the Christmas festival possible.

“Although the old courthouse belongs to the police jury, I want to thank the mayor and the city employees for stepping in to make this happen,” she said. “The old courthouse, established in 1939, is a registered historic site and we need to do something to help. One of our goals is to bring it back to life. Thank you to the police jury for allowing us to have this festival there and the Vidalia Women’s Club for rearranging the Christmas parade to fit right into the festival.”