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The Decatur Dixie Darlings march down Second Avenue Southeast past the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts during the Decatur Christmas parade Monday night.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
The Decatur Dixie Darlings march down Second Avenue Southeast past the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts during the Decatur Christmas parade Monday night.

DECATUR CHRISTMAS PARADE
Parade brings holiday warmth to chilly night

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Angel Hargrove needed some Christmas magic Monday night.

So the Falkville resident and her two daughters bundled up and headed for the Decatur Christmas parade, fittingly titled for them, "The Music and Magic of Christmas." It was her first time to watch the Decatur parade. "I'm trying to get in the Christmas spirit," Hargrove said. "It's hard this year because my daddy is in Iraq."

Kalee Jones, 6 , and Christopher Sharpley, 5, yell to Santa as the parade passes along Second Avenue Southeast.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Kalee Jones, 6 , and Christopher Sharpley, 5, yell to Santa as the parade passes along Second Avenue Southeast.
To get in position to get in the spirit, Hargrove and her daughters, Summar and Amanda, first had to get inside a few layers of clothes to endure the bitterly cold temperature. It was 29 degrees when the parade started at 6 p.m. and fell to 27 by the time it ended an hour later.

Summar, 12, and Amanda, 7, watched from the back of their mom's minivan parked on Second Avenue Southeast. Neither looked too cold, nor did it look as if they could move anything other than eyelashes under the clothes and two blankets.

"Well, I have on a long-sleeve shirt and a T-shirt on top of that and a Carhartt jacket and my pajamas under my pants. And I've got socks on that thick," Summar said, showing a nearly quarter-inch gap between her fingers.

Despite the cold, crowd numbers looked similar to parades in recent years. They didn't linger and visit when the parade ended, though.

Wrapped in a Kansas City Chiefs blanket, Decatur residents Sonya Jasso and her 10-year-old son, Matthew, sat on the curb near the start of the parade and said they wouldn't miss it.

"Tradition," Jasso said, noting they arrived 40 minutes before the parade started to get their favorite seat where Matthew can get lots of candy tossed from floats. "We come every year."

Ora Dean Letson of Decatur arrived 45 minutes early, but she didn't wait all that time in the cold. She stayed in her parked car until about five minutes before parade marshal Tommy Ed Roberts led off the event from inside a newly restored 1966 Vanden plas Princess. Letson said she usually comes early so she can park along the parade route.

"Get it when it starts. Then you can whip out," she said.

As the parade began to pass, Hargrove kept her daughters abreast of the entries heading their way, pointing out the most interesting sights. They were especially impressed by the majorettes from East Lawrence and Priceville high schools, who wore festive red skirts with white trim, while other majorettes wore sweat pants.

More than 60 entries marched or rode this year, down slightly from last year. The Decatur Jaycees and Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce organized the parade.

They watched a variety of entries pass by for about 40 minutes: five high school bands, motorcycles, clowns, baton twirlers, a Native American drum group, churches, businesses, local elected officials, dogs, hot rods, firetrucks — including friends of Hargrove from Ebenezer Volunteer Fire Department — Cub Scouts, pageant queens, horses and, of course, Santa Claus bringing up the rear aboard a Decatur fire engine.

Summar said her favorite part of the parade was the horses at the end. She let out a loud giggle when she first spotted a miniature pony pulling a wagon. Amanda was all smiles when the parade ended. She hopped from her seat and then bounced cheerfully between her mom and older sister.

"Everything," she said, was the most memorable part of the parade.

Amanda's smile, however, wasn't contagious with her mother. Though she had no regrets about coming to the parade, Angel said she still didn't feel in the holiday spirit, knowing it will be her first Christmas without her father, Master Sgt. Steve Barnett.

The National Guardsman is part of a signal group that deployed in May and won't return till June. "I'm trying," she said hopefully. "I'll get there."

Winners

Five entries won $100 each for being the best-decorated in their categories during Decatur's Christmas parade Monday:

Float — Twisted Scissors Salon, which had a snowmaking machine blowing flakes on a live holiday scene.

Use of theme — The Footehills of Alabama, a realty group, which had a Cinderella carriage.

Walking unit — Point Mallard Park, which had golf carts decorated as reindeer pulling a sleigh on wheels with Capt. Mike Mallard aboard.

Vehicle — Boxx Gear Manufacturing, which had a decorated hot rod.

Animal — Morgan County Humane Society, which had a goat disguised as a unicorn.

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