Cold weather came just in time for the Jackson Christmas tree lighting and the Jackson-Madison County Christmas Parade on Monday night, as excited onlookers bundled up to view the annual festivities making their post-COVID-19 comeback.
“Weather’s perfect for a Christmas parade, and we got the tree lit—it’s going to be a great night,” said Jackson City Mayor Scott Conger, after lighting the picturesque tree in front of City Hall.
“(I’m most excited about) having the parade back. Having a year off and having to do it in a concert virtually?” he said, referencing 2020’s Christmas festivities with a sad shake of his head. “So having people around, gathering in Downtown Jackson, seeing the floats, being able to walk—I love walking the Christmas parade, throwing the candy out—it just signifies the start of the Christmas season here in Jackson. And it was missing last year, so we’re glad to be doing it this year.”
Following last year’s replacement of the events with virtual versions, organizers and parade participants put in the extra work to make this year’s Christmas spirit all the more impressive.
“This will be the 13th year—due to COVID last year, we were unable to do a Christmas parade,” said Bridgett Parham, recreation manager of the City of Jackson. “We began planning in August, and we are just so thankful that we were all able to get together. It takes months of planning and working together with the various organizations so we can make the logistics, the staging, the registration, the line-ups and all the behind the scenes come together.”
Some of the behind-the-scenes efforts could be seen in the parking lot of the Carl Perkins Civic Center, where parade participants worked to put the finishing touches on the 80-plus floats in flurries of tinsel, lights and sparkles.
Gary Lentz, the secretary treasurer of the Jackson-based vintage car club Parkway Christian Auto Club, expressed his excitement to be back at the parade while meticulously taping down strands of garland along his prized vintage vehicles.
“I’m excited to be back!” he said. “We’re usually here every year. We try to do all the parades that we can and get the word out that we’re a Christian auto club—we like to support charities.”
The club hosts car shows regularly in Jackson, with notable ones in the downtown area in the spring and fall.
“We’re happy to be here tonight,” he said. “We’re glad to be back.”
Making their debut at the parade was one of Jackson’s newest girl scout troops—Troop 40353, with their tinsel-lined and light-strewn float.
“All these girls are very excited to be here,” said Marcy Webb, a leader with the troop, dressed in her Christmas best and working hard to wrangle 15 young girls.
Webb laughingly expressed that she’s most excited to simply survive the parade with her sanity intact, but otherwise, the young girls were ready to hit the road with their sparkling float.
“We’re happy to be here,” Webb said, as a young scout—wrapped in a fleece blanket—added, “And not die of hypothermia!”
For the kids involved, an added excitement was seen in the crowd following Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, who swanned through the throngs with palpable good cheer and excitement.
“We’ve done it for three or four years now, and this is our favorite thing we do during the Christmas season,” said Mrs. Claus, speaking for herself and Santa.
The two, who are obviously from the North Pole, also own a summer home in Union City in which they reside when not flying around the globe—and Downtown Jackson—spreading Christmas cheer.
“We enjoy this parade so much,” she said. “Things are back to normal (from last year)— we’re so excited. We have been very, very busy getting Christmas ready.”
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This article originally appeared on Jackson Sun: Jackson tree-lighting and Christmas parade kick off a return to normal, highly-anticipated Christmas spirit