MDA public relations director and parade organizer Randy Melton said the Association is hoping to see more churches get involved, for the spirit of the season.
"In this time when keeping Christ in Christmas seems to be a disappearing idea, I would like to see the churches get more involved with the Middlesboro Christmas parade," said Melton. "This is surely one holyday (spelling intentional), more than any other, when the churches should be present."
This year, the MDA has made a few changes, and is encouraging area groups, organizations, and churches to be involved with the parade, which is slated for Saturday, Dec. 2, at 1 p.m.
One change on hand for the parade is the requirement that those people in pickup trucks wishing to toss candy to children on the streets have one person be on foot and walk along side or behind the truck. "We also ask that those who throw candy not throw it into the street but walk along side or behind floats and vehicles to hand out candy. This will prevent children from running out in front of parade participates," said Melton. ""For safety reasons, we ask that all precautions be taken to secure those who will be riding in the back of trucks as well."
Since the event will be televised, trucks and cars participating in the parade are asked that their signs be lettered large enough to be seen on television and be on both sides of the vehicle. Vehicles should also be washed and cleaned prior to the event.
Carriage rides will be available for this year once again from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the National City Bank. The route for rides will be begin near Jim and Mary's Flower Shop between 20th and 21st street on Cumberland Avenue.
With the parade comes competition. This year, only first place prizes will be awarded to the best performance in categories. They include best float, best band performance, best non-band performance, and best ROTC. Cash prizes of $300 will be up for grabs for first place winners.
These prizes are being donated by several of our local banks. Specifically they are First State Financial, National City Bank, Home Federal Bank, and Commercial Bank.
Last year, the parade commenced in the rain. In case of rain this year, the parade will still proceed on time. Because of the time and efforts of putting the event together, the parade will not be rescheduled if the weather is bad.
"Although the participants got wet last year the bravado shown in performing in the rain seemed to make it appreciated that much more," said Melton. "No rain delay, no rescheduling, no canceling. Prepare and pray for warm weather with a little snow."
Craft and vendors are another aspect of the parade, and the MDA is welcoming anyone who wishes to be involved.
A new addition to the parade this year is the hiring of a professional photographer to memorize parade moments. At the last meeting, the MDA voted to contract local photographer Natasha Douglas.
Douglas is from Ewing, Virginia and is one of the youngest photographers in the country to receive world-class status. She has earned high honors for equine photography and has also worked for local media as a photographer and journalist.
"She has a wonderful approach to artistic and unique portrait photography, and she has a lot of recognition in places outside the area. I think she will be a wonderful asset for the parade and the pageant, considering she has covered important Middlesboro events for local news outlets."
Douglas will be taking photographs of parade participates and the Snowflake pageant. She will be offering a wide range of sizes, finishing options, and extra products that would make wonderful Christmas gifts. For more information and to ensure your photo will be taken, visit her website at www.natashadouglasphotography.com.
The traditional Snowflake Pageant will be held on Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. at the Middlesboro Community Center. Categories include Wee Miss Snowflake (ages 2-3), Tiny Miss Snowflake (ages 4-6) and Little Miss Snowflake (ages 7-9). Entry fee is $30 and forms will be available at Signature's Formal Boutique, Enix Gifts & China, the Chamber of Commerce, and the MDA office, and Jim & Mary's Flower Shop. Two changes this year; the rehearsal will be on the same day at noon, and there will be a Miss Photogenic in each category. The first photo entry will be $10 and each additional entry $5. Deadline for entries is 6pm the day before.
Applications for parade participation can be picked up at Just Dub-It Frog Studios, Jim & Mary's Florist, Enix Jewelers, the Bell County Chamber of Commerce, the MDA office, and the banks mentioned above.
"I welcome and ask for any and all idea for improvement in this and future parades," said Melton. "The MDA would like to thank everyone in advance for putting forth the effort and expense to make this Christmas parade better for the children and all the citizens and visitors to the city."
The MDA will meet Thursday, Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at city hall to finalize parade plans. For more information on the parade, you can call the MDA office at 606-248-0660 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Deadline for entries is Nov. 18. The office phone is 248-0660 and Randys email is firstname.lastname@example.org.