DOBSON — As the county seat, the town of Dobson is centrally located in Surry and this week it also will be Christmas Central with two major holiday events planned there.
One is the annual Dobson Christmas Parade that will roll through Saturday afternoon. Before that, the town tree will officially be illuminated Thursday night.
The public is urged to attend both gatherings to help Dobson welcome the holiday season.
Parade always popular
The Dobson Christmas Parade, a highly anticipated attraction each year, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s usually a huge event,” Town Manager Josh Smith said Tuesday. “We’ve averaged 5,000 or more people in the last few years.”
The Dobson Lions Club sponsors the event, which has been held for more years than anyone can remember.
“It’s 35-plus, I’m guessing,” longtime Lions Club member Jerry Weaver, who chairs a parade planning committee, said when trying to pinpoint its origins. “We’re between 35 and 40” years old.
The Dobson holiday parade will follow its familiar route, starting at Surry Community College and heading up Main Street past the two courthouses and ending near the Town Hall.
Onlookers typically line the length of the street to take in a variety of entries.
“Last year, I think we had about 160,” Weaver said. “My wife, she’s usually the counter.”
The Surry Central High School Marching Band will be part of this year’s parade along with colorful floats prepared by church, business and other groups. Unique vehicles also are expected in the procession in addition to public safety units from around the area displaying fire and rescue trucks.
The Dobson Christmas Parade is unique in one key respect, according to Smith, the town manager, who pointed out that it is a horse-friendly event. Some communities have banned horses from their parades, but Dobson welcomes those animals, which have been joined by llamas in the past.
“We have lots of horses in our parade,” Smith said, which the crowd seems to enjoy. “A lot of them are trick horses or dancing horses.”
The exact parade lineup won’t be set until about an hour before the procession begins.
‘There’s no registration for anyone who wishes to participate,” the town manager explained. “They can simply show up over at the college — Lions Club members will get them lined up, as long as they are there by about one o’clock.”
Parking for parade watchers is available at locations including side streets, Dobson Square Park and campus lots in town.
Weaver said that Hugh Wilkins, a veteran member of the Lions Club, has been selected as grand marshal for the parade. Wilkins is retired from the Air Force and a past president of the club.
The parade also has a tradition of bestowing special recognition on a local military figure to ride in the parade, who this year will be Robert Ackerman, a retired colonel with the U.S. Marine Corps who lives in the Mountain Park/Thurmond area.
Michelle Kennedy, a meteorologist and reporter with a Winston-Salem television station, will be a celebrity marshal in the procession.
A prelude to Saturday’s parade will be Thursday’s lighting of the town tree.
That event will be held in Dobson Square Park, with the festivities beginning at 5:30 p.m.
“Santa Claus will be on hand,” Smith said, along with Christmas music and more.
“The first 100 people will get free treats,” he said of attendees. The Dobson Public Library staff also is scheduled to provide hot chocolate and cocoa for the gathering.
“And we’ll actually light the tree at 6:30,” Smith said.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.