Christmas parade

The atmosphere will be a little different from recent years at the 2019 Milledgeville Exchange Club Christmas parade as the event is moving to a Sunday afternoon rather than a Saturday night. The Exchange Club took a survey and says an overwhelming majority of responses were in favor of returning it to an afternoon event.

Thousands are expected to line the streets of downtown soon for the Milledgeville Exchange Club’s 2019 Christmas parade.

This year marks a return to form for the annual holiday event as the local civic club has elected to move it back to Sunday afternoon rather than Saturday evening, which is when it has been held in recent years. This year’s parade is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 8 and will begin making its way through downtown at 3 p.m.

Exchange Club President-Elect Jeff Wells said the organization put out an open survey to take the public’s temperature on when it would like to see the parade take place. After receiving 200 responses, the decision was made to change the parade a Sunday afternoon event once again.

“Overwhelmingly the community did not prefer to hold the parade at night anymore,” Wells said, adding that many of the comments in the survey cited safety as an issue. 

The route will remain the same as first responder vehicles, tractors, trailers, a school bus, local high school marching bands and local business entries will make their way up Hancock Street right through the heart of downtown.

The theme for this year’s parade is “Christmas at the Movies” as entrants are encouraged to decorate their floats and vehicles themed after holiday film favorites. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is already a popular float theme year-in and year-out, so the Exchange Club is hoping to see some other Christmas classics showcased like “A Christmas Story” or “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

The parade will be led this year by Grand Marshal Jon Jackson, owner of Comfort Farms, a agricultural therapy center for combat veterans located right here in Baldwin County. While the parade theme is “Christmas at the Movies,” Wells said the selection of Jackson as grand marshal fits right in with the parade’s focus on public servants (including veterans like Jackson) and educators. 

“We wanted to have a bigger emphasis on the men and women that serve and educate the community because community service and youth development are two of the major focuses of the Exchange Club,” said Wells. “It made a lot of sense to us to focus one of the community’s largest events on those people.”

Many local dignitaries and education officials have been invited to ride along in the parade this year, and speaking of riding along, the Exchange Club is expecting between 80 and 90 entries in this year’s parade. Local churches and the Baldwin County School District are among those Wells pointed out as being particularly well-represented in this year’s big event. 

Late entries are still being accepted for the 2019 Milledgeville Exchange Club Christmas parade, though there is a late fee since the regular window closed last week. The application/registration form can be found on the Milledgeville Exchange Club’s Facebook page. 

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