The Exchange Club's annual Milledgeville Christmas Parade will honor longtime Santa Claus driver Jesse Wall as Grand Marshal. On Dec. 2, Wall kicks off his 31st year with the parade.
J.P. Stevens sponsored the Santa float from its start in 1981 until 1998. Wall worked for the company when he was asked to drive the truck pulling Kris Kringle.
“I was the manager of the shipping and receiving department, so they called and asked me to drive the (company) truck. The next year I bought a red and beige Chevrolet pickup truck. I've used it ever since to pull Santa Claus,” Wall said.
Larry Allen rode with Wall the past 30 years and his wife Chris joined 10 years ago.
This year's grand marshal will run through his honorary duties before returning to the old red truck.
“I'll be grand marshal through the parade. As soon as I get back, I'll drive Santa on through,” Wall said.
Triumph sponsors the Santa Claus float these days.
Exchange Club member and parade chair for the past 16 years, Roc Patel, said he's excited to honor Wall.
The Christmas parade usually brings 100 entrants including local first responders. Those entries include floats, marchers, cars and trucks, horses and, of course, marching bands from GMC Prep and Baldwin High.
Patel said many local businesses, churches and civic organizations enter the parade to promote their organizations as well as good cheer.
The Christmas parade is always a big event for people in the community, drawing from Milledgeville, Baldwin County and the surrounding area.
Patel expects a few thousand to line downtown streets that first December Sunday.
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.
The parade will begin at 3 p.m. Parade entrants should arrive at the lineup area on South Jefferson Street behind GMC for a placement number and preparation by noon.