Family traditions abound at South Rowan holiday parade
By Shavonne Potts
When Nikki Watts was a little girl, she would sit on the roadside and watch floats go by during the South Rowan Christmas Parade.
The family would sit on blankets across from Parkdale Mills in the 100 block of South Main Street.
It's a 27-year tradition she continues today with her family. Watts, her husband, Nathaniel, their children Annalise, 1, Kadance, 7, and Brayleigh, 5, did as the family has done for years - sat on a blanket and watched the parade.
What Nikki enjoys most, she said, is seeing the happy expressions on her children's faces. All weeklong the children were asking about the parade.
They wondered when the parade started and if they would get out of school in time to see it.
Nikki said she remembers attending the parade with her great-grandparents Alis and Sallie Ritchie and her grandparents Walt and Becky Lyman. The whole family lived on the same street and still does, just two minutes away from downtown Landis.
"We would sit in the same spot," she said.
The family parked their car earlier in the day to reserve their spot.
There were some at the event who watched for family and friends in the parade.
Mary Sheely was one of those spectators. She and her children and grandson were watching for her husband, Michael Sheely, a Landis volunteer firefighter.
When asked how long she had been attending the parade, Sheely looked at her daughter, Amber, smiled and said at least 19 years.
The family, which included her other children, Andria and Andre, were also celebrating grandson, Devonte's birthday.
The 2-year-old wasn't expecting his grandfather to be in the parade.
He waved and then became excited when he spotted his grandpa, Sheely said.
Chase Cheek, who is a member of the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, brought son, Samuel, 7, and daughter Peyton, 14 months, to the parade.
"They love the fire trucks and the bands," he said of the children.
Samuel danced and cheered for the fire trucks as they slowly rode by, honking the horns. His little hands scooped up candy into his pockets. Others standing by helped Samuel collect candy as it hit the ground.
Cheek said he looks out for his fellow officers riding in the parade as well.
Every year Dawn Horne stakes out the same spot during the parade.
She sat on the back of a truck bed watching as her son, David, 11, and grandchildren, Savannah, 9, and twins Abigail and Annabell, 8, caught candy thrown from floats.
The parade kicks off her holiday season, Horne said.
The children all listed a number of things they liked about the parade, including the candy, the floats, music and just about everything else at the parade.
James Sifford of Salisbury attends just about every parade in Rowan County and the surrounding area including the one in Concord and the Faith Fourth.
"It's wonderful to have one," he said.
While others around him stood, sat in chairs or on blankets, Sifford sat on his motorcycle. He just rode downtown and parked it along the grass and watched the floats pass.
He watched the parade in Landis and said when it sails through China Grove he'll ride down and watch it all over again.
"I feel like a kid at heart," he said.
The winners of this year's parade were as follows:
• Most Spirit - Elevation Cheer Co.
• Most Creative - South Rowan High School FCCLA, A recycled Christmas
• Best All Around - Carson Cougars Youth Football League
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.
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