The 2016 Small Town Christmas Parade and Celebration was a HUGE success! We appreciate everyone that graciously showed their support and attended this event. The event had a total of over 10,000 people between the Ugly Sweater 5K Run, Brunch with Santa, Parade and Celebration attendance.
Events such as this would not be possible without an immense support network, from volunteers to sponsors, all of the local community came together to make this one of the best parades ever! We would like to thank our premiere event sponsor Thrivent Financial. Thrivent is new to our area and we’d like to introduce you to them. “When it comes to financial services providers, you have plenty of choices. But while others see money as a goal, Thrivent sees it as a tool – for serving God, your family and your community,” explains TJ our local representative. Thrivent is a non-for-profit membership organization of Christians starting a new conversation about money. Start yours today!
Additional event sponsors were Advanced Disposal, Dunnellon Community Thrift Store, Comfort Suites HDG Hotels, Habitat for Humanity of Marion County, Heritage Management, Tidewater Drilling, Lori Howard, Advanced Gas, Coldwell Banker Riverland Realty, Weiseman’s Automotive, Gruff’s Tap & Grill, Ye Olde Sub & Pizza Pub, All State Insurance of Dunnellon Roxanne Caraway, and Badcock Home Furnishings.
The Christmas parade had 52 different groups, 32 floats and over 1000 participants! The floats this year were phenomenal from the Polar Express Engines to the awesome marching bands and who could forget Santa! The judges had a very hard time and we believe there were more winners than the nine trophies given out. The theme Christmas at the Movies was evident with the Polar Express Engines, Grinch’s, and Elves we saw dancing in the streets of Dunnellon.
Our 2016 Grand Marshal was James Johnson. James has been a Dunnellon resident for over 60 years. He retired from the railroad and gave much of his time to Dunnellon as a volunteer firefighter. James stays busy with his 9 living children, 39 grandchildren and 64+ great grandchildren! Please join us in wishing him a Happy 110th Birthday on December 29!
Without further ado, the trophy winners were:
1st Place DUNNELLON 4H
2nd Place COOL KIDS
3rd Place SCALLYS
1st Place RIVER LIFE CHURCH
2nd Place BOY SCOUT/ CUB SCOUTS 574
3rd Place TWO RIVERS 4H
1st Place FIRST UNITED METHODIST
2nd Place GIRL SCOUTS 320/3617
3rd Place NOAHS CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
The judges came to the parade line up early to see the floats up close during the day light and each unit was paused in front of the judge’s stand located in front of the Dunnellon Fire Department so they could be scored. We would like to thank this year’ judges: Beverly Kelly, Lescia Owens, and Brittney Owens.
Our parade could not happen without the help of our community. The Friends of Dunnellon Christmas Parade, Inc. would like to extend a huge thank you to the City of Dunnellon, Dunnellon Fire Department, Dunnellon Police Department, First Baptist Church, Dunnellon Middle School, Dunnellon High School Band, Westport High School Band, Dunnellon Christian Academy, Jim Gissy, Rainbow’s End Golf Club, Sue & Winston Webb, Chief Joanne Black, Riverland News, Village Crier Newspaper and WLDN WOW 104.9 Dunnellon’s Radio Station for their support during this parade.
Following the parade, a community Celebration was held at the Dunnellon Plaza. The parking lot area was transformed into a great fun filled Christmas Celebration complete with snow, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, food vendors including the Dunnellon Little League, 2nd Bethel Baptist Church, Calypso Concessions, LaRue’s Ice Cream Parlour, and Ye Olde Sub & Pizza Pub, games, bounces houses and a snow slide.
A children’s fun zone was provided by Brit Cottrell of Rainbow River Water Taxi and many, many friends, it included tons of games and even a shooting Gallery!
The children enjoyed the Children’s Gift Shop where they could shop for their loved ones and get their gift wrapped to put under the tree. It was a very popular area just like the fun tent of local face painter Tonya DeRose who joyfully painted faces and sold the popular light up toys to boys and girls. Bounce-with-Us provided bounce houses where all the children could stretch their legs, but the show stopper was the slide. Lines never slowed as we watched our children climb up to the top and slide all the way down only to excitedly proclaim “Can I do it again Mommy?” It’s safe to say fun was had by all!
Although weeks and months of preparing and planning went into the event, it all came together because of a village of elves. Some that just simply showed up and said, “What can I do to help?” and others that brought their time and talent to devote to this community event. For instance, the Christmas lights that were adorned on top of the plaza were from a labor of love from Josh Stevens (StevensLabs), Andy Arevalo (Al’s TV and Satellite), and the High Maintenance crew.
All of these people, groups and businesses helped make this year a celebration and let us remember if even for a moment what it was like to be 10 with the whole world at our feet! Please join us in showing much love and appreciation to the “ELVES”: Jessica from Regions Bank, Sherri from Cadence Bank, Joe, David and his amazing girls (You totally rock!), Patricia, Ally & Matty Baillargeon, Bio Clean, the Historic Train Depot, the Boys & Girls Club of Marion County Dunnellon Branch, Grumble’s House, Faith Temple Ministries, Dylan Kitchel, Mayor Walter Green, Wayne Powell, DeeDee Simmes, Danny Hart, Weiseman’s Automotive, Warren’s Power Washing, Fingers & Toes by Melissa, Seth Popper, Amber Bouton, Katie & Pete Marquardt, Dominic Battista, Dunnellon Community Thrift Shop, Jeff Buchko, Linda & Chris Barrow, Brianna Lakani, Toni Anderson, Lynne McAndrew, Rebecca Casiano, Gaetano’sSubs, Donna Salter, Bette Neagle, Christina Wichterman, Gruffs Tap & Grill, A to Z liquors, Dunnellon Tire & Auto, Lisa Martlett, Alexis Williams, Joan & Jack Eubank, Augie & her husband, Michyle Winkler, Piper Fenelon, Jasmine Belcher, Jayson Bruce, Yvonne Jones, Dr. Dane Myers, Alan Bevel, Papa Johns, Pizza hut, Little Caesar’s, and the Dollar Store on West HWY 40, Mathew Baillargeon, Charlene Williams, Jeff Bryan, Steve Tyree and Martha Vaughn.
Thank you to our wonderful entertainers this year. We enjoyed the performers from Soul’s Harbor Church, R-Style and Cote- Elvis Tribute Artist.
Finally we would like to extend a huge thank you to Charlene Williams. Charlene has been involved with the parade for many years and has been a great mentor, adviser, role model, and friend to all those involved with the event. Every step of the way she made sure we were safe, every detail of the route forever ingrained in her memory as she worked with various groups to make sure their float, truck, bus, or trailer could make every turn and would be able to get through without any issues. She was instrumental in creating the celebration and worked with everyone to make sure that we have an event that is second-to-none. We are excited to know Charlene will be advising and mentoring us next year, and look forward to showing our new parade chairperson the ropes!
Now don’t forget, mark your calendar that December 2, 2017 IT WILL SNOW IN DUNNELLON again as that is the date for next year’s Small Town Christmas Parade & Celebration!
The Friends of Dunnellon Christmas Parade, Inc. wishes you and your family a Christmas filled with love and laughter and a year blessed with good health and success.
Photo Credit – Look at the view from atop Dunnellon Plaza! Thank you StevensLabs!