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Decked out in red outfits and Santa hats, the Dixie Darling Twirlers travel down Second Avenue and prepare to turn onto Lee Street Northeast during Monday night's Decatur Christmas Parade. In the inset, one of the Darlings, Sarah Doran.
DAILY Photo by Dan Henry
Decked out in red outfits and Santa hats, the Dixie Darling Twirlers travel down Second Avenue and prepare to turn onto Lee Street Northeast during Monday night's Decatur Christmas Parade. In the inset, one of the Darlings, Sarah Doran.

Christmas in Decatur
No Silent Night; parade cold, bright

By Seth Burkett
DAILY Staff Writer

sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

Soldiers and doggies and fire trucks with candy, these are a few of their favorite things.

So said a troop of children staking out the side of Second Avenue Southeast for Decatur's Christmas parade, put on by the Decatur Jaycees and the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce on Monday night.

Stephanie Proctor, 8, Michael Vanwagon, 6, and Toby East, 5, also pointed out that Christmas lights were among the attractions that brought them out in the 30-degree weather at 6 p.m. to see the floats.

Allison Ross, chairwoman for the parade titled "Christmas: A Season of Lights," said almost all of the floats incorporated lights, in keeping with this year's theme.

The Maranatha Baptist Church float, covered in blue and white lights, won the award for Best Use of Lighting.

The procession of bright lights lifted sprits despite the plummeting temperature.

"You kind of get caught up in the spirit of it and forget about the cold," said Gwen Jones as she watched the parade with her three-year-old son Trinity. "It puts me in the Christmas spirit."

Her aunt and mother were also with her. Together, they made nearly as much noise as the fire truck sirens and marching bands.

"Yay, Santa! Look at the reindeer! Merry Christmas! Ooh! Throw me some candy!" they shouted.

"Candy!" piped in Trinity.

"The key is to just keep moving," said Jones' aunt, Liz Moore, as she danced back and forth, clapping and cheering.

"We look forward to this every year," said Jones' mother, Shirley Campbell.

Candy canes clattered on the pavement at Candi Thomspon's feet.

"I can't catch them! My hands are frozen!" Thompson said.

Thompson said she came to the parade to watch her daughter, Abbigail Childs, who turned 4 Monday, ride a float from First Christian Church.

Nearby, a heavily bundled crew peeped out of blankets and toboggans as they watched the parade from camp chairs.

"It is so cold," said Megan Ledbetter, 16.

"But we're pretty warm," said Jacob Key, 11.

Ledbetter and Key said they were there to watch the Decatur High School band.

Priceville High School, R. A. Hubbard High School, West Morgan High School and Austin High School bands also marched.

Nick Burkett, 9, said he enjoyed watching the bands but that he was really waiting to see the Dynamic Misses All-Starz dancing team, which includes his sister.

Micaela Looney, 8, had just returned from dance lessons and was eager to see other kids from Dancer's Inc.

"I liked the horses. They were pretty," said 5-year-old Kylie Ratley.

A host of relatives turned out to watch Lauren Allen, 8, march and twirl batons with the Decatur Dixie Darlings.

The 50 Decatur Parks and Recreation twirlers went second in the parade and twirled away with the award for Best Walking Unit.

"It was very fun but very cold," Lauren said. "I want hot chocolate."

Her mother, Deena Allen, said they were headed home for hot chocolate and warm baths after the parade wrapped up at about 7:30 p.m.

Ross said it was the Dixie Darlings' 27th year participating in the parade.

The award for Best Decorated Float went to the Red Hat Mamas, perched on the back of a trailer covered in greenery and clad in their trademark red hats and purple attire.

The First Baptist Church Young Professionals won the Best Decorated Truck by dressing a truck as Rudolph and pulling a boat behind it.

The award for Best Decorated Animal went to Tina White, whose Labrador appeared on the Whoville float, dressed like the poor pup from "How The Grinch Stole Christmas."

Attorney John Caddell, 95, served as grand marshal for the parade.

"He is a longtime Decatur resident, philanthropist and historian here in town. We were honored to have him as our grand Marshall," Ross said.

The parade came to an end with Santa riding the back of a Decatur Fire and Rescue ladder truck and throwing out goodies to all the boys and girls, regardless of their behavior.

Ross said three months worth of planning paid off Monday night with a larger-than-expected turnout and lots of entries.

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