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Kilmarnock Christmas: A hometown tradition

Posted on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 10:07 am

Kilmarnock’s Christmas Parade turns 40 this year and town officials have proudly crowned it the oldest lighted Christmas parade in the state of Virginia.
People have done their digging and searching and so far, nothing has been uncovered to suggest otherwise. “There may be places that have an older parade, but we have the oldest night parade. We’re laying claim to that and we’re going to hold on to it as long as we can. We dare anyone to tell us no,” said Deputy Town Manager Susan Cockrell. “It’s one of those hometown pride things that makes an impression on you as a child, much like the Kilmarnock Fire Department’s Carnival in the summer. You have these memories as a child and you kind of want to relive them with your own children or your grandchildren.”
But make no mistake. Hometown does not mean it’s thrown together in a willy-nilly fashion. Parade planning begins in August. And one of the first orders of business is selecting a theme. Part of having a great parade is making sure the entries are interesting and well decorated, and to do that you must have something that entrants can build their concept around. For 2018, the parade committee chose “A Story Book Christmas.”
The parade is always held on the second Friday of December, and it consistently draws about 1,000 people every year. Some come from out of town specifically for it.
“I have a family from Maryland that calls me every year for the date. Shawn Donahue, the owner of the Kilmarnock Inn, has people who come and spend the whole weekend at his inn just to go to the parade,” said Cockrell.
With 100 or more floats and groups participating every year, the one-mile procession normally lasts an hour. The town hires an entertainment company that installs two music setups that rock downtown with Christmas carols to keep the viewers entertained while they wait.
Candy isn’t thrown like it was in the good ole’ days to ensure everyone’s safety, but it’s still part of the affair. Entrants have people who walk down the street doling out candy, pencils, and other little treats and gifts. One year, Chesapeake Boat Basin gave viewers little stuffed bears.

For the full article pick up a copy of this weeks Northumberland Echo 12/5/18

 

Santa  Claus makes his entrance at last year’s parade.