A do-si does it: Longtime parade fixture goes out with a bang

Published 12:10 am Saturday, July 6, 2024

FAITH — A patriotic presence filled the air in Faith on Thursday for the annual 4th of July parade.

Approximately 250 floats made their way down Main Street to the adoring cheers of a fervent Independence Day crowd. One of those floats, China-Grove-based Southern Style Cloggers, did so for the last time, hanging up their clogs for future 4th parades.

The decision does not spell the end for Southern Style Cloggers. They plan to perform in this year’s Christmas parade and China Grove Farmers Day and would not rule out other future performances outside of the Faith 4th of July.

Over the last few decades, Southern Style Cloggers has become a fixture of local parades, growing from Founder Linda Childress’s humble clogging beginnings to what it is today.

“Me and a girlfriend decided we would, you know, start dancing with what was called the Yadkin Valley Folklore Society then,” she said. “She got to where she couldn’t do it anymore, and I said, ‘Well, I’d like to teach it some.’ So we started in my mother’s basement as just a little small group, which grew from there, and I’ve been teaching ever since.”

In the 1980s, they reached out to the parade committee about taking their act to Faith. Childress credits the help of Kepley House Movers for facilitating their float and transporting them through the procession over the years. And it has not just been the Faith parades, as the Southern Style Cloggers have been featured in Christmas parades throughout the county. They also do a show at China Grove’s Farmers Day.

Childress said that it’s sad to stop but acknowledged that as their group has gotten older, braving the excessive temperatures that coincide with the 4th of July parade has become untenable.

She said that last year, they had close scares with two cloggers who got so hot they considered calling an ambulance. Thankfully, no one was injured.

Long-time member of Southern Style Cloggers Tiffany Gutman said the decision to end their decades-long run in the parade was bittersweet but added that it does not mean an end to their attendance at the Faith festivities.

“We will be there as a group, but we will be watching,” Gutman said. “We have children now. We would like to spend time with our kids at the parade and not be occupied (with the performance.)

Gutman has been clogging since she was four and has been a part of China-Grove-based Southern Style Cloggers for a long time. One of her greatest joys as a member of the organization has been performing in parades, especially the 4th of July parade in Faith.

“It’s always fun with the crowds,” Gutman said. “Just the atmosphere of the July 4th parade is different from the Christmas parade or any other parades. It’s hot but with the people hyping us up, it’s the only thing that gets us through.”

Be sure to catch the Southern Style Cloggers at China Grove’s 43rd annual Farmers Day later this month.