Archived Story

Christmas parade proves heart-warming

Published 7:03pm Friday, December 9, 2011

Monday I had the honor of piloting a float in the Alexander City Christmas parade.

I hear it was a great parade. Lots of people said so.

It’s a little hard to tell when you’re in the parade, since I could only see a couple of entries fore and aft.

Mostly I was looking out from the driver’s seat, and looking down at my phone, where the National Weather Service radar showed lots of green, and some yellow, storms marching north toward Alexander City. For most of the afternoon, it looked like thunderstorms were coming our way.

They never got here.

On the radar, it looked like the clouds just dissolved and faded away south of Lake Martin. I heard from several folks from around the state Monday afternoon. There were gully-washers elsewhere.

But the Chamber of Commerce and Alexander City float-builders must be living right.

It did not rain on our parade.

The view from my seat was definitely heart-warming and exciting.

Through my front window, I got to watch Dr. George Hardy rollerblade back and forth across the road dressed like a big white molar. George was wearing black under his tooth costume, with his head poking up through the crown, and when I asked if he was a cavity I got a good-natured laugh. Watching George Hardy for an entire parade was something. He’s probably the only tooth in Alabama that got a hundred hugs that night. Hardy he spent more time visiting on the roadside than skating in the roadway. Near the end of the parade, while we were stopped on the roundabout as the Lafayette band staged an extended strutting session in front of the judges, Hardy grabbed hold of my rear view mirror, held up one rollerbladed foot, and show me that he had worn the plastic off his wheels.

In my rear view mirror I could see The Outlook float that featured a huge newspaper proudly proclaiming that NORAD had spotted Santa flying over the lake and showing a (slightly doctored) photograph of the event. On the four corners of the trailer there were all four Outlook Calendar Girl Pageant winners beaming wide smiles and practicing their princess waves.

To my left in the passenger seat was my wife, Mary Lyman, who after 37 years of marriage still fits that description three paragraphs up. (And while I will get brownie points for saying so, I’m thankful it’s also the truth.)

But it was the view out my driver’s window that I’d like to speak about.

There was a huge crowd lining the left side of the street.

We passed folks I know well, folks I’ve never seen before and both friends and strangers waved and wished us “Merry Christmas” as we passed by. (At least I think they were waving at us … they might have been waving at the Calendar Girls.)

There were people videoing the entire parade, families sitting together, black people and white people with lots of smiles all around, wide-eyed young children, older folks leaning on walkers, friends swapping stories, daddies with youngsters on their shoulders. I bet Chad Calhoun had a sore neck all week long. There must have been thousands of people just on my side of the road.

Mostly, I saw people having fun together as a community. It was a sight that made me feel proud of my home town and I wanted to share that feeling.

Norman Rockwell could have found dozens of models for a holiday painting on the streets of Alexander City Monday night.

That’s as it should be.

Boone is publisher of The Outlook.