Parades, parades, parades! I think that’s all I’ve done for the past month is cover Christmas parades in all the little communities throughout Pickens County. Having been to four in just the past two weeks alone, I now consider myself quite the Christmas parade expert — despite the fact that I’m a Jew.
The Easley parade was the easiest for me, geographically speaking. I live within walking distance of the route so I grabbed my camera gear and my son, Ben, and headed out to find a good spot from which to watch. My favorite thing about Easley’s parade was, hands down, the marching bands. A parade just isn’t a parade without a band — and this year there were two as the Powdersville “Marching Pats” joined in the fun.
There were the usual old cars and various pageant winners — the dance troop that had the snow machine was Ben’s favorite and I had to snag his hand before he ran right out into the road to join them.
The only slow point in Easley’s parade was that bizarre “commercial” midway through where a local car dealership had inserted a stream of vehicles emblazoned with the dealership’s logo and the sticker price of the vehicle. I didn’t understand the point of that … I mean, sure, I get that you want to promote your business but how about next time you at least decorate the cars to look “Christmas-ey” or toss out candy or have the drivers dress up. Anything … It seemed very out of place.
Liberty’s parade was the same day but as they elected to hold it at night, it was a totally different experience. Commerce Street was lacking its usual Christmas lights due to the construction project in the downtown area but you would hardly notice.
The floats were all jazzed up with twinkling lights and kids waved glow sticks from the sides of the road. I didn’t take Ben with me to this one, but later I wished that I had because I think he would have had a really good time.
I noticed that most of the floats in Liberty’s parade were from area churches rather than businesses and the whole thing just had a nice “hometown feel” to it. Holding the tree lighting immediately after the parade was a nice touch as sipping on cocoa and singing carols just felt like a fitting way to cap off the evening.
I think Liberty’s parade may have been my favorite …
Pickens also held its at night and out of all the ones I have been to, their parade felt the most ‘“grand,” if you will. Their marching band was fantastic and I loved the motorcycles. They also had these vendors pushing carts up and down the route and while I am normally irked at commercialism sneaking its way into holiday activities, these seemed to fit right in as part of the festivities. The whole thing was just fun.
That night was especially busy for me as I had (via an idiotic scheduling move on my part) promised to be in two places at once. The Parenting Place was holding their annual holiday gala “Cheer for Children” over at the Tri-County Tech building in Easley on the same night.
Because I didn’t have enough time to go home and change I looked like a crazy person with my camera hiking along the parade’s route and shooting pictures in full make-up, formal dress and 6-inch gold sparkly heels. Yup. That was me …
Dacusville’s parade was the following afternoon. And this time, because my husband was home sick, I didn’t just take Ben, I took my 4-month-old, Sam, too.
Camera in one hand, baby strapped to my chest in a carrier and a 3-year-old in the other hand, we set out to stake our spot to watch the parade. For an hour and a half, I was the epitome of a working mom. Once again, Ben loved it. Dacusville’s was cool because it had horses — something I didn’t see in the other parades.
Also, the weather just couldn’t have been nicer. The Grinch riding a unicycle and the Shriners zooming around their remote control cars were my favorite parts, although Ben would disagree as he preferred the tractors, especially the weird one that rode on what I can only describe as “tank treads.”
As far as I know, the “parade season” has drawn to a close, but it’s been fun and I’m looking forward to covering them again next year. Honestly, I hadn’t been to this many parades since I moved away from New Orleans. Although, admittedly, many of the parades in New Orleans aren’t exactly “family friendly” if you know what I mean.
In the mean time, I guess now I’ll have to find some other way to spend my weekends.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Easley Progress, The Pickens Sentinel and Powdersville Post and can be reached at [email protected] Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.