‘You miss out’ if you don’t attend the Cleveland Christmas Parade

Published 12:10 am Sunday, December 4, 2016

By Mark Wineka

CLEVELAND — It’s a given. On the first Saturday of December, Mike and Darcy Ward are going to be watching the Cleveland Christmas Parade from their favorite spot — the intersection of Main and Depot streets across from the barber shop.

“This is where we sit every year,” Darcy said matter-of-factly as the 45th edition of the Cleveland Lions Club parade passed by Saturday afternoon. She noted that the people around her are always the same, too.

Darcy Ward has seen it all at these parades: Rain, snow, the year a clown had a heart attack, the year someone broke an ankle and the year of the ice storm, when people in this part of county were left without power for many days and the parade was used as a water distribution spot.

“You miss out if you don’t come to the parade,” Darcy said.

She watched Saturday’s edition without any major mishap. With her were husband Mike, son Brayden and daughter Caroline, a 2-year-old who spent most of the parade bundled up on her mother’s lap.

When it was time for Brayden to make a bathroom run, he and Mike moved quickly to the Scotch-Ireland Lodge, also known for its free popcorn on parade day.

Near the Wards, and under a portable N.C. State Wolfpack tent, Christ Episcopal Church had made 400 hot dogs and 420 hot chocolates to hand out for free on the brisk day.

The church also sent a couple of kids from the congregation with coolers full of hot dogs to give away on the parade route. Church member Lynn Plummer said the congregation thought the free hot dogs and hot chocolate would be a good way to reach out to the community.

Plummer, 61, lives in Faith, and he acknowledged this was his first Cleveland parade, even though he has attended Christ Episcopal most of his life.

With the Cleveland Christmas Parade, you get a little bit of country and a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll. As always, Saturday’s parade had plenty of horses — at least 20 prancing in their holiday finery up Main Street.

Tractors and hay bales were in good supply, and plenty of parade watchers brought their dogs, rather than leave them at home.

The rock ‘n’ roll part of the parade equation came from the rumblings of classic cars, newly minted Freightliner trucks, four-wheelers, fire trucks, law enforcement vehicles  and 14 motorcycles piloted by the American Legion Riders.

There were several kings and queens, Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops, churches, cheerleaders, dance teams, clubs, the West Rowan High Band, the West Rowan High ROTC and only a few politicians.

All the parade entrants passed by the judges’ stand, manned by Jimmy Redmond and Deatra Simpson, both of Cleveland, and Lions District Gov. Butch Conrad.

Terry Moore served once again as the voice of the parade, introducing each entry as it came up to the judges.

Lots of candy is thrown out at the Cleveland Christmas Parade. But throwers have to pace themselves.

Jett Cole, 11, riding in the back of the Cleveland Police car at the front of the parade, was all out of candy before the parade was half over. His father, Officer S.C. Cole, said, “I hope that’s the only time I see him in the back of a police car.”

Luke Koppe and his mother, Kelly, brought their greyhound, Citrus, to the dog’s first Cleveland parade. Citrus is a former race dog from Tampa Bay, Fla., that the Koppes adopted in October.

The Koppes, who live “just down the road” from the parade, attend every year, and Kelly was especially on the lookout for Youth Football League cheerleader Jacquelyn Rivera.

When Scout Troop 320 came by the judging stand, the troop and its leaders stopped, braced the U.S flag and led the crowd in the “Pledge of Allegiance.” That’s something you don’t see at most parades.

Another unusual development occurred when the CAC Plumbing float came by pulling the big green car of Bill Russell, also known as “Boss Hogg Russell.” It seems Russell’s car died before the parade started, but CAC made sure he would not be left behind.

“You never know what’s going to happen in a Cleveland Christmas Parade,” Lions Club member Elaine Hewitt said.

Ain’t it the truth.

Here are the parade winners in each judged category:
• Horse — Diane Belt.
• Commercial — CAC Plumbing.
• Regular — West Rowan High School cheerleaders.
• Religious — Third Creek Presbyterian Church.
• Antique cars — Charles Humphrey, 1961 Chevrolet Impala “Bubble Top.”
• Humorous — Boogerwoods Haunted Attraction.
• Kings and queens — Ricki Goodman, queen for Kennedy Hall American Legion Post 106.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.