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|Parade, fireworks kick off Chirstmas season|
Plans are in the final stages for the annual Winnsboro-Franklin Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade scheduled for Friday night.
The event will start at 7 p.m., and over 70 units are scheduled in this year's lineup.
"We're certainly pleased by the response," said parade co-chairman Paul Price, Jr. "It seems that every area of Franklin Parish is represented in some way and, if the weather holds, we're expecting thousands to be in town for the event."
Grand Marshals for the parade are area veteran organizations, who were recognized by the Chamber earlier this year as recipients of the Chamber's "Spirit Award" for community service.
These groups include the Diamond-Hawthorne American Legion Post #84, the Scott-Dupree American Legion Post #559, the Hanna-Richardson VFW Post #3155, and the Oakley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
"Members of the local Louisiana National Guard unit will escort members of these groups in military vehicles this year," Price said.
Also included in this year's parade are floats built by a number of churches, non-profit groups, and school groups who will compete for prize money, along with commercial entries who will compete for the top commercial prize, the coveted "Santa Trophy".
Beauty queens, elected officials, school spirit groups, and antique cars are also in this year's lineup.
No Christmas parade would be complete without marching bands, and this year's parade has several of those in the lineup. In addition to the Franklin Parish High School Patriot Band, the Wossman High School Band is scheduled to perform. Band sponsors this year include Senator Neil Riser, Representative Noble Ellington, HomeCare Resources, and Family Life Home Health.
The parade will line up on Fair Avenue in Winnsboro starting at 4 p.m., with float judging scheduled for 5:30. The parade will follow the traditional parade route through Winnsboro, traveling south on Common Street, then east on Prairie, north on Pine to the courthouse, then west on Main Street before continuing on Kinloch back to Fair Avenue.
"All parade participants will have to come in from the Kaye's Food area starting at 4 p.m.," Price said. "The street will be blocked off and all traffic will move from north to south at that point."
Float judging will begin at 5:30 and winners announced before the parade starts.
Bleachers for spectators will be located in the area around the gazebo across from Winnsboro City Hall. In addition, a number of non-profit groups will be offering hot food and hot drinks at various points along the parade route, particularly around the gazebo area.
As is always the case, Santa Claus will be on the final float of the parade, and will be throwing plenty of candy according to parade officials.
Once the parade has made it back to its starting point, a holiday fireworks spectacular will be staged by Pyrotechnico, an internationally-acclaimed fireworks company.
"The fireworks show will be staged from the centerfield area at Dickey Field in Winnsboro," said parade co-chair Noble Ellington III. "The fireworks won't begin until the last float has safely made it by the ballpark so there will be some time between the end of the parade and the beginning of the fireworks show."
This year's fireworks show is sponsored by Franklin Parish Catfish Festival, the Franklin Parish Tourism Commission, and Interstate Buick-Pontiac-GMC.
Chamber President Lindy Price praised the efforts of the volunteers who work together to make this and the other Chamber holiday events so successful, and cited the significance of events such as this to the parish.
"These holiday events sponsored by the Chamber are important to our community, and bring thousands to Franklin Parish each year," Price said. "Our retail stores and restaurants will be very busy next week which will be a boost to our parish as a whole."
Price also recognized the Franklin Parish Tourism Commission for their financial support for this year's event.
"We are truly blessed to have their support for our holiday events," she said. "Their financial assistance makes such a big difference, and we appreciate the role the group plays in our parish."
"They recognize the importance of attracting visitors who spend both money and time here, and support endeavors such as ours which attract people to Franklin Parish."