Kannapolis Christmas parade features ‘firsts’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 6, 2009

By Emily Ford
See a gallery of photos from the parade here.
A crowd estimated at 3,500 braved the cold and rain Saturday afternoon to watch the Kannapolis Christmas Parade march up Main Street and past the N.C. Research Campus.
“I thought it was about one of the best,” David Stirewalt said.
Dressed in coveralls and a stocking cap, Stirewalt said he attends the parade almost every year.
The event featured several unique entries, including a donkey, flock of sheep and camel as part of First Presbyterian Church’s walking nativity scene. A church member with a bucket and broom followed close behind the menagerie.
The church took first place during the awards ceremony at the annual tree lighting later Saturday evening.
The Winston-Salem State University band, led by five dancing drum majors including A.L. Brown High School graduate Willie Stroud, made its first appearance in the parade.
The large ensemble with nearly a dozen tubas left quite an impression.
“We loved that band,” said Nita Benton, who watched the parade with husband Andy and daughter Faith. “They were great.”
The Bentons were not as pleased with the presentation of Santa, who took to the street instead of riding in a traditional sleigh.
Fairly spry for a jolly old elf, Santa ran up the road, stopping here and there to give a hug or pose for a quick photo.
But not every child had the chance to greet him.
“I liked it better when he waved to every child from a sleigh,” Nita Benton said.
Parade marshal Eddie Ray, a recording-industry legend and curator of the N.C. Music Hall of Fame in downtown Kannapolis, said he had a fantastic time.
“It was a tremendous honor,” Ray said.
Ray, well into his 80s, had never been in a parade before.
For the first time, the Kannapolis Intimidators baseball team organized the parade in cooperation with the city of Kannapolis.
Winners included:
– Civic
1. Mount Olivet United Methodist Church Boy Scout Troop 34
2. Beholdance Youth Driven Conservation Group
3. CK Rider bus
– School
1. Franklin Heights Baptist Church Christian Academy
2. McKnight Child Development Center/Kannapolis Head Start
3. Cosmetology of Rowan Cabarrus Community College
– Church
1. First Presbyterian Church walking nativity
2. St. Joseph Catholic Church
3. High Rock Community Church