The Union Recorder

November 19, 2013

Grand marshals sought for Christmas Parade

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Exchange Club’s 32nd annual Milledgeville Christmas Parade is set for 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.

The popular grand marshal title has special meaning this holiday season. Milledgeville Exchange Club member and parade chair for the past 17 years, Roc Patel, said he’s excited to honor local survivors.

“We need the people’s help. This year’s grand marshals are people going through cancer or cancer survivors,” Patel said. “It’s a day of celebration.”

Folks battling or who have defeated any serious ailment can hop on the main float as well.

Patel said three grand marshals have signed up, but he’d like as many as 15.

“Some people are shy about that, but there are some that celebrate surviving,” the parade chair said.

The route is unchanged from last year and will start on Franklin Street, turn left onto Elbert Street, left onto Hancock Street and then left onto Clarke Street.

Parade entrants should arrive at the lineup area on South Jefferson Street behind Georgia Military College for a placement number and preparation by noon. The parade will begin at 3 p.m.

Parents of young parade participants are asked to pick up their children at the Centennial Center after the event’s conclusion.

“This is so we don’t have a bunch of children running around. We don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Patel said.

The Christmas parade usual brings nearly 100 entrants including local law enforcement and emergency responders. Those entries include floats, marchers, cars and trucks, horses and, of course, marching bands and JROTC from GMC Prep and Baldwin High bands.

Patel said many local businesses, churches and civic organizations enter the parade to promote their organizations as well as good cheer.

“The Shriner’s Club will be there. Of course, they are always exciting,” he said.

Entries will be judged and prizes awarded for best commercial entry, best homemade entry and best overall entry.

Parade floats can be rented. The signup deadline is Thanksgiving.

Entrants or grand marshal candidates should call Patel at Roc’s Cork Shoppe for an application at 478-452-2335. Exchange Club members have applications as well.

Also, the parade route and entry form is up on the Milledgeville Exchange Club Facebook page.

The money raised goes back into the community.

“The Milledgeville Exchange Club raises all of its money, and we donate it back to organizations in this city,” Patel said. “Our mission is prevention of child abuse.”

The Christmas parade is always a big event for people in the community, drawing from Milledgeville, Baldwin County and the surrounding area.

“It’s always great to have the community get together for the parade,” Patel said. “I’ve never gotten a viewing crowd total, but it’s in the thousands. It’s just a great day.”