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Cleveland celebrates Christmas with a good family parade

By Scott Jenkins

Salisbury Post

CLEVELAND — Meredith Hutchison attended just her second Cleveland Christmas Parade on Saturday. At her first, last year, she was only six months old, so not very active in the candy scramble.

This year, she was more mobile — a lot more mobile.

“And she obviously has the hang of the candy,” her mom, Laura Hutchison, said as Meredith scampered around her little piece of the parade route snagging sweets with an assist from grandmother Lynnette Eller.

Meredith, her mom, her 4-year-old sister Megan and grandparents Gary and Lynnette Eller were among hundreds who lined Main Street to watch the parade.

Eric Hutchison, Laura’s husband and the girls’ dad, rode in the parade, rambling down Main in a restored antique John Deere tractor, one of several in the procession, some dressed for Christmas with red bows tied to their green frames.

Featuring classic tractors is just one of the things that makes this western Rowan County holiday tradition stand out and draw spectators from miles around.

“It’s small town, it’s friendly,” Gary Eller, of Mount Ulla, said. “It’s just a good family parade.”

And Saturday was about as perfect a day as you could order up for it, with temperatures in the mid-50s, an occasional breeze and bright blue skies breaking through cotton-white clouds.

At 2 p.m., distant sirens signalled the start of the parade, exciting kids running around clutching white plastic bags good for carrying home the rain of candy they knew was coming.

They were not disappointed. From the first Cleveland Police car to the last, parade participants slung sweets in all directions. Some adults came prepared, turning open umbrellas upside down to catch the candy showers.

The West Rowan High School ROTC and band led the march down Main. The school was well represented with its Student Government Association, FFA and homecoming king and queen among the entries.

Other schools taking part in the parade were West Rowan Middle, whose band played Christmas tunes from a flatbed trailer, and Clearview Christian Academy.

Dignitaries riding in utility vehicles and classic cars were trailed by the roaring motorcycles of Rolling Thunder and beauty queens waving from convertibles.

Several churches and businesses entered Christian-themed floats. Cleveland Presbyterian’s was a boat pulled by a truck and bearing a sign saying “Jesus, A Good Fisherman.” Trinity Baptist’s float featured angels.

Cleveland Dental struck a patriotic chord with Dr. Kenneth Rasbornik dressed as Uncle Sam and a staff member portraying the Statue of Liberty on a float festooned in red, white and blue.

A couple of entries took on military themes. The National Guard handed out flags and the signs on another float urged parade watchers to “Support Our Troops” and “Thank a Veteran.”

A clown clown rolled by on a unicycle and the Incredible Hulk, Capt. Jack Sparrow and other luminaries cruised through town on a float called “Christmas with the Starz.”

More than two dozen horses hoofed by near the conclusion of the procession — one gussied up in ribbons and bells for Christmas. And at the very end, amid even more blaring sirens and sitting atop a Cleveland Community Volunteer Fire Department truck, was Santa Claus himself.

Before, during and after the parade, the fire department held a fundraiser for Kim Beeker, a 32-year-old Granite Quarry woman who suffers from cystic fibrosis and diabetes.

Contact Scott Jenkins at 704-797-4248 or sjenkins@salisburypost.com.

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