The 66th annual Christmas parade sponsored by the Jefferson County Civitan Club delighted attendees Saturday afternoon on Main Street.
Following its usual route, the parade began at the Convention Center and made its way down Main Street to the county courthouse. This year’s theme, “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” featured Elf on the Shelf as the grand marshal.
Among the approximately 43 entries, others featured in the parade included Watson Chapel High School JROTC, Pine Bluff Dance Academy, Salvation Army, Watson Chapel School Board, Broadmoor Elementary Drill team, Phi Beta Sigma UAPB, Jefferson County Recycling, Pine Bluff High JROTC, 34th Street Drill Team, Class A Apparel, Boy Scout Troop 3911, Cub Scout Pack 218 and Lakendrick Creative Dance Studio.
Floats included New United Baptist Church, JRMC School of Nursing, Delta Baptist, Girl Scout Troop 1291 and First Immanuel M.B.C.
The Breath of Life Church float, decorated in black, gold and white, won the best float category.
Broadmoor Elementary won best drill team and Lakendrick Creative Dance Studio won best dance.
Although the crowd was smaller than usual, several families braved the slightly brisk weather to support children and grandchildren participating in the parade.
Brandy Hagler and Mike McBride huddled in a breezeway waiting to see their 12-yr-old Girl Scout.
Michelle Dunlap came to support the parade and to see her son, a drummer at 34th Avenue school.
Children raced to beat each other to candy being tossed from floats. Jefferson County Recycling and JRMC School of Nursing were among those walking through the crowds with candy.
“The candy is my favorite part,” said 12-year-old Christopher Vount Jr.
As with any mixed crowd, attendees had mixed views about the parade.
“I give it an eight,” Michelle Dunlap said. She said she likes that everyone is in the Christmas spirit, but “it’s missing more old-fashioned Christmas festivities.”
Another attendee, Sandra Pryor said she has been to more than five parades, and “this is by far the best one.”
“There was more stuff this year and the bands were great,” Pryor said.
Pastor Saint Mary Harris stood in front of her church on Main Street. After commending Breath of Liife for its “beautiful float” she said she wished there had been more.
“Since this season is about Jesus and salvation, I would like to see more representation from the more than 400 churches and ministries in the city,” Harris said. “Jesus came to bring peace on earth and Pine Bluff needs peace.”
Old Towne Christmas, also sponsored by the Jefferson County Civitan Club, was held at the Pine Bluff Convention Center immediately after the parade. Enthusiasm was high as families came together to enjoy the festivities. Approximately 300 people attended, with children scurrying from one activity to another.
Children jumped to their hearts’ content in bounce houses, got their faces painted and visited with Santa. They made Christmas ornaments that light up, were treated to balloon art, hay rides, learned how to make a bird feeder and were entertained by magician Tommy Terrific.
Stacey Owens, who brought four children ranging in age from 7 to 11 years old, stood in line waiting to get a visit with Santa. She said her children had been looking forward to the event.
“It’s wonderful,” Owens said, “great to have something for the kids to enjoy.”
Other live entertainment included a selection of songs by the Jenkins Choir, the Holcomb Brothers and Duane Jackson.