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Parade celebrates season, city progress

Last-minute entries to Thursday night’s 2008 BrookhavenChristmas Parade defied early predictions that this year’s eventmight be smaller than expected and pushed the size of the parade -and the crowd that shrugged off near-freezing temperatures to seeit – to new levels.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Christmas ParadeChairwoman Rita Rich said the parade’s approximately 150 entriesdrew record crowds to the two-hour event, and morning-after reportsindicate success.

“It turned out to be much longer than I originally thought,” shesaid. “The people in Brookhaven have always supported the parade,and I think that speaks well for this community.”

Lots of factors go into making a successful Christmas parade,Rich said, chief among them floats. And it was the floats, most ofwhich adhered to the Sesquicentennial theme of the parade, thatreceived the honors.

Chamber administrative assistant Pam Cartwright announced Fridaymorning that McLane Southern Grocery Distribution was named theparade’s overall winning float for its antebellum celebration of150 years of progress.

In the religious category, Clear Branch Baptist Church took tophonors. The Family Readiness Group of Brookhaven’s National GuardCompany E, 106 Brigade Support Battalion, was declared the winnerin the general theme category.

Girl Scout Troops 108 and 260 combined to construct the bestthemed float for an organization with their living Christmas floatthat featured troopers in Christmas gift and cookie costumes. PikeNational Bank fielded the best float for a small business.

“I appreciate everyone that was in the parade,” Rich said. “Thepeople who had the floats had done a lot of work on them and itshowed.”

The chamber does not have a people’s choice award for theChristmas parade, but if there were such a category, the winnerlikely would have been the Budweiser Clydesdales.

The eight-horse team and classic beer wagon stole the showThursday night as the one-ton beasts pranced through downtown toconstant applause and flashing cameras. Onlookers shifted fromstreet to street to see the horses multiple times.

“What can I say? The Clydesdales are magnificent,” Rich said. “Iknew that some people came to the parade just to see them. When theparade kept getting longer, some people were passing me, headedtoward the starting point. I knew they were going to get a glimpseof the horses.”