South Rowan parade rolls

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

By Joanie Morris
For the Salisbury Post
LANDIS — For most people, visiting a local parade happens when they are 3 or 4 years old. For Michelle Ellis, her first experience with the Southern Rowan Christmas Parade was this year — she’s 35.
“I’m very curious to see what all the excitement is about,” Ellis said before the parade. She and fiancé David Ruckart each had a daughter in the parade. While they live just a few blocks down Ryder Avenue from South Main Street, David was out at 10:30 Tuesday morning to park his truck in a prime spot along the parade route.
“They start parking cars about 9 a.m. and then they get ready to come here about an hour and a half before,” said Ruckart. He’s been coming to the parade for the past 25 years and told Ellis it wasn’t something she would want to miss. During the parade, the couple sat in the bed of the truck, above the rest of the crowd as they watched the floats roll by.
Ellis is originally from Lancaster, S.C., and she figured before the parade that it would be like parades down there. In addition to her first experience in Landis, Ellis will also attend the Salisbury and Kannapolis Christmas parades.
“Our daughters are in those parades so we’ll be there, too,” she said. “I’ll be paraded out.”
Ellis wasn’t the only one to experience the parade for the first time this year. With dark clouds threatening and a light breeze, children and adults alike were amazed at the beautiful and creative floats.
It was also a first for Gospel Lighthouse Church in Salisbury. This was the first year the church has entered a parade, according to Jeannie Ervin, who was leading a costumed character by the arm during the parade as other members of her church gave out information about Awana. The church also converted an outbuilding to look like a church and had members riding in the parade.
“We’re having a great time,” said Ervin, walking behind the mini-church. “We started an Awana group and we wanted to tell the community so we could get more people and witness God.”
Gospel Lighthouse was not the only church that participated in the parade — nor the only one with a mini-church. Highest Praise First Worship Center in China Grove also converted a building into a rolling church.
While those things are nice, it was the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts that Rosalind Beaver was watching for.
“I’ve got a Girl Scout, a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout in the parade,” she said, referring to her grandchildren who were riding on floats or marching in the parade. It was her fourth year at the parade, but it won’t be the last. She will also attend the Holiday Caravan parade, since she’s got a granddaughter who will walk with Center Stage Dance Company.
Right next to her, Shirley Barbee of Salisbury said she used to go to China Grove and watch the parade, but realized that it was lighter during the parade if she attended in Landis, and she would see the same things. She’s been attending the parade almost since the very first year.
“I used to carry my son on my hip and he’s 51 years old now,” said Barbee. Barbee’s grandson is in the Jesse C. Carson High School Marching Band, but she said she wouldn’t miss it for the world anyway. While she comes for the bands and the JROTC marchers, she said she enjoys all aspects of the parade.
“Our young people, there’s so many that go wrong and you see young people (marching) and you need to come out and support them,” she said.
Tractors, four-wheel-ATVs, trucks and semis all pulled floats, while beauty queens sat atop convertibles and threw out candy. Marching bands from Carson and South Rowan high schools played Christmas tunes and even the East Rowan Saddle Club got in on the action, bringing several horses and riders to the event, riding just ahead of the main attraction — Santa Claus.
Walter Hill, a member of the saddle club, got to ride behind the horses on a trailer and sitting atop a bale of hay. His job wasn’t to throw candy — no one would have wanted it anyway. As he sat, he twirled a dirty shovel — the official pooper scooper for the club.
“It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it,” he joked about volunteering for doody duty. At the end of the line, he said it took about 30 minutes to ride from one end of Landis to the town square at Ryder and Main.
As Santa said his Merry Christmases and kids got one last piece of candy, Michelle Ellis stepped down from her perch on top of the truck and smiled.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “The floats were all wonderful. Everybody brought something special to the parade.”
She will not hesitate to attend the parade again.
Parade winners were:
Most Holiday Cheer/Christmas Spirit – Jesse Carson High School Marching Band
Overall winner – Southern Style Cloggers
Greatest Appearance – South Rowan FFA
Joanie Morris is a freelance reporter for the Salisbury Post. Contact her at 704-797-4248 or