PILOT MOUNTAIN — Pilot Mountain Rescue and EMS Inc. successfully staged its 40th Christmas Parade Saturday and delivered on its promise of ringing in the season with a varied and enthusiastic slate of vehicles, floats and participants for the town.
“This is our thing for the community,” said Christmas Parade Committee Chairman Shawn Jessup. “We do not charge an entry fee for participating in the parade or require them to register. Everybody is invited to be in the parade within the boundaries of certain rules, of course.”
He said this was one of the biggest turnouts ever for the parade.
“I’s say we had 137 floats,” estimated Jessup. “This year the parade filled the street from East Surry to the intersection on the old 52 bypass and into the intersection there in the south end of town. We’ve come close before but were never able to fill that distance with the parade. The band was a half a block long. Everything went great. I’ve never seen a turnout so big.”
Jessup said the parade has a tradition of going on regardless of the weather.
“We really have no idea who will show up until they start lining up at East Surry High School and we start lining them up to go into the road,” said Jessup. “On a year with good weather we have had as many as 130 participate. Last year we had bad weather and there were only more than 30 who participated.”
“The better the weather the better the participation,” summarized Jessup. “We deliver this parade like the mail, in rain, snow or sleet.”
Grand marshall for the parade this year was Jared Pike from the morning radio show on 107.5 WKZL-FM.
The event continued its tradition of handing out candy. Jessup said the parade “often puts Halloween to shame” and he has seen some groups spend more than $100 on candy for the parade.
Phil and Jamie McCreary had brought their three children, 9-year-old Evan, 9-year-old Molly and 3-year-old Lauren to Pilot Mountain for the parade.
“We come every year. Seeing Santa is our favorite part of the parade,” said Jamie McCreary. She said although Phil is a Mount Airy native, she was born in California and grew up in New Jersey. She said she loves parades in the area because they are more personable and “homey” than their counterparts in New Jersey or on the West Coast.
“The end is my favorite part of the parade,” said Evan McCreary and he explained that is when he gets to see Santa, which surprises him every time.
On a nearby hillside, persons passed the time before the parade talking with Melissa Taylor, who had found a spot to sit down with her Great Dane, Kassie. Taylor explained this was her first time watching the Pilot Mountain parade. She said she and Kassie had come to watch her granddaughter Shelby Park, who is a junior at North Surry, dance in the Dance Works group.
Five-year old Porter Gibson was giving away free mints to passersby from his small red wagon in front of the Adele Lee Photography studio, which is owned by his mother, Adele Gibson. She explained that the little boy had even set himself up a little desk in the studio where he could “serve his customers.”
“He must have caught the entrepreneur thing from me,” said Adele Gibson. “At first he tried to sell his mints for $13 each but he’s now giving them away as the parade excitement kicks in.”
Amy Neal said she and her 4-year-old son, Leo, had made an entire day of parades Saturday, starting out with King’s Christmas Parade that morning. They had come to Pilot Mountain to see Leo’s teacher, Deana Jessup, on a float in the parade. Neal said Leo attends the King First Baptist Church Child Development Center.
“Miss Deana waving from the float will be the high point of our day,” said Neal. She explained how Leo’s favorite parts of the parade are when the Junior Officers Training Corps walks past and the fire trucks and tractors. She said he even saluted as the walked past in the parade in King.
“Is this the parade?” asked Leo as he watched the traffic going by in front of Hardee’s in Pilot Mountain.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.