It’s one of the few times when parents let their kids play in the street and have strangers throw them candy. Columbia’s annual Holiday Parade on Sunday mixed the sounds of bagpipes, the beats of marching bands and the music of Christmas blasting from stereo systems. This year’s theme, “Music Makes the Season Sing,” embraced one common thread of the holiday tradition.
Dressed in a green and navy plaid kilt, Carol Easton hugged her bagpipe as she hurried to join the Boone County Fire Protection District in line for the procession.
“(The parade is about) holiday spirit, being a community, and love, peace and joy,” she said.
Tonya Benton, the Holiday Parade chairwoman for the Columbia Junior Chamber of Commerce said there were about 100 entries in this year’s parade, compared to about 75 last year. Benton said the Holiday Parade was meant to get the people of Columbia “in the holiday spirit since Christmas is right around the corner.”
Participation is free; Benton said candidates in the parade had the option of having their float judged to win a cash prize of $75 for first place and $50 for second place. Floats were judged on adherence to the theme of the parade, creativity and artistic quality, she said.
The parade, which used to take place the Sunday after Thanksgiving, was moved to the Sunday before Thanksgiving to give high school marching bands a chance to participate. Benton said that in previous years, there had been conflicts with schools’ Thanksgiving breaks.
In addition, she said, “We feel December is too cold.”
During the pre-parade line-up, a boy with a red nose stared patiently as the Columbia Christian Church youth entertained him with a puppet play. The puppet show, along with blasting Christmas music, won the church first place in the float contest.
“I like the fact that we have the opportunity to promote the church and the Christian Community,” said the Rev. Deiter Duff of Chapel in the Woods, who sponsored the float. “One, it’s just a fun time, and two (the community) gets to see all the different organizations.”
The Bluffs Retirement Home float won second place.