Albany, Leesburg gearing up for holiday parades

Dec 03, 2014

By Jennifer Parks, Albany Herald

ALBANY — Holiday traditions in both Albany and Leesburg will continue with parades on the first Saturday in December to usher in the season.

The Leesburg event, Spirit of Christmas Parade and Festival, will kick off the festivities on Dec. 6. A festival on Starksville Avenue will be taking place from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. with the parade starting at 10 a.m. from Peach Avenue and Main Street near Lee County High School. Entertainment from acts such as Broadway Bound, Cheyenne Lawing, Colt McClung and John Hunter will be on stage from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the festival.

At 12:30 p.m., there will be performances from a dance company and the Lee County High School Chorus. At 1 p.m., there will be a doggie pet parade to give people an opportunity to dress their canine friends in holiday attire. Registration will be at 12:30 p.m. at cost of $5 a piece. Pets are expected to be on a leash, and there will be judging in the categories of small, medium and large breeds, Lesley Barbosa, director of operations for the Lee County Chamber of Commerce, said.

At 1:45 p.m., the youngest Elvis Presley impersonator in Southwest Georgia is expected to appear while there are pony rides, train rides, food vendors and a rock climbing wall on the streets of Leesburg. An appearance of Curious George is planned, said Barbosa.

Roughly 100 parade entries and 50 food vendors are anticipated at the Lee festivities, Barbosa said.

The sightings at the parade itself, which will run past the courthouse, will include, among others, law enforcement agencies, horses, the Lee County High School band, antique tractors, Lee County JROTC, several cub scout packs, the Shiners, the Elks, Civil War re-enactors, the K-9 unit with the Marine Corps Police Department, Albany Technical College, the area’s beauty queens, Artesian Car Club and the Corvette club.

Santa will be acting as the grand marshal this year, said Brenda McMillan, administrative assistant with the Lee County Chamber of Commerce.

“It should be a fun-filled morning and afternoon,” she said.

McMillan said the deadline to enter into the parade is today, but that entries coming into the Chamber of Commerce a few days late could likely still be worked in.

“They can call us and we can add them to the list,” McMillan said. “We just can’t wait until the day or two before.”

The Albany parade, now going into its 24th year, will start at 6 p.m. School bands from Columbus and Atlanta and an Army band will be joining high school bands from the Albany area. Wild Adventures making its first appearance in the parade.

“We have never had so many bands … we are getting well known,” said Lorie Farkas, the coordinator for the parade.

The holiday decor in downtown Albany includes a Christmas tree dedicated to a family in the area who has recently suffered a loss. This year, the family of late Olympics star Alice Coachman will be lighting the tree at 6 p.m., said Farkas.

Farkas said a dance group would be at the parade, and that from 5 p.m.-5:45 p.m., there will be acts performing on the 200 block of Pine Avenue, including the Freedom Singers. There will also be a children’s choir of more than 100 leading Santa.

The daughter of Dougherty Assistant County Administrator Michael McCoy, Madison McCoy, will be leading the parade. The theme is “Promise of Christmas,” Farkas said.

The route this year will incorporate the Flint RiverQuarium by starting at Pine Avenue and Davis Street, going to the Riverfront Park turnaround and down Front Street to Broad Avenue to Friendship Baptist Church.

While there will be bleachers on Pine Avenue, people are being encouraged to bring their own chairs. There will be parade lights near the Flint River, Farkas said.

There are 100 to 130 entries anticipated, Farkas said, with attendance expected to reach about 40,000. The parade usually include motorcycles, horses and will also include food vendors, Farkas said.

“It is such a looked forward to event,” she said. “It puts everyone in a good mood. It is a shared event. It gives you a sense of family.”

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