Exchange Club Christmas parade

It will be a red, white and blue Christmas this year as both the holiday spirit and pride in patriotism are set to be on display at The Milledgeville Exchange Club’s annual Christmas parade next month. 

The event is set for Sunday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. and will travel its customary route right through the heart of downtown Milledgeville on Hancock Street.

The theme for this year’s event is “A Star Spangled Christmas,” and all entrants are encouraged to show off both their Christmas and patriotic spirit as they make their way through the parade route.

“What we’re doing is integrating our mission of Americanism in The Exchange Club with our mission of community service via the program,” parade chairman Jeffrey Wells said. “This year in the parade, we’re asking all participants to deck their floats [and] their cars out in red, white and blue.”

A number of local and state dignitaries have been invited to attend the parade, as well as leaders from the area’s colleges. Local law enforcement and emergency services personnel will be highlighted, as well as accomplishments from within the local school systems. 

Serving as grand marshal this year will be Miss Georgia Kelsey Hollis. Hollis is a native of Warner Robins, and she is currently a student at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. According to her bio, she has interned for both VFL Films and The SEC Network. Inspired by growing up with an older brother who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at a young age, Hollis founded the non-profit organization “TAABS: Teaching Autism Awareness by Siblings” in 2014. The next year, she advocated for the passing of SB118, Ava’s Law, which provides up to $35,000 in insurance coverage per year towards the psychological care of those diagnosed with ASD in the state of Georgia. Hollis is also the founder and director of the “Miss Queen of Summer” pageant, which honors girls in middle and high school with diagnosed disabilities. This year, Hollis has expanded her Social Impact Initiative, “Autism Acceptance: A Platform for Change,” on an educational level with the creation of “A-Cubed.” The education initiative promotes inclusivity through teaching Awareness, Acceptance, and Advocacy of the autism community. She has taught the initiative in 15 schools within the Georgia School System during this past year. Hollis will compete for the title of Miss America in December.

The Exchange Club of Albany, which is the second largest club in the state, will also be participating in the parade this year. Wells said the group will be on hand handing out flags as part of The Exchange Club’s “Give a Kid a Flag to Wave” program. 

“Any time you have a parade or a rally or a big event, The Exchange Club will sometimes attend in different cities or different states around the country, and they will hand out little American flags for children to wave,” Wells said. 

The Georgia district president and president-elect of The Exchange Club will also be riding in this year’s parade for the first time ever.

Wells said he expects this year’s Christmas parade to be just as big as last year’s. Once again this year, there is no entry fee for participants . 

Wells said each year, the parade is a good way to get the community into the Christmas spirit. It’s a family-friendly event, he said, that not only builds excitement for the holidays but that encourages a sense of community spirit as well. 

“A person who supports the parade is not only supporting his or her community but also the community spirit, the Christmas spirit and also building up the community in the most important people’s eyes and that’s its own citizens and supporters,” he said.

The deadline for entering the parade is Nov. 22. Those interested in an application should email jwells@gmc.edu or millyexchange@gmail.com

 

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