The Birthday Parade for Jesus with “A Supersized Christmas” theme lit up the night sky Saturday, Dec. 5. in Palestine.
After the city cancelled its parade, the downtown business owning trio of Tera Farris, Judith Cantrell and “Parade Lady” Rebekah Wilkinson decided to sponsor their own community lighted-Christmas parade.
“The smiles, the laughter, the kiddos gasping in wonder, it was an answer to many prayers for a little bit of normal that we all so desperately needed,” Cantrell said. “The turnout was amazing. I kept finding myself holding back tears of happiness and joy. People were shouting 'Happy Birthday Jesus' and 'God is good!' It was more than we dreamed it would be. I am so proud of this community coming together for a positive experience.”
A large number of parade participants and business owners, including the 903 Jeep Club, showed up to help light up the city sky for this year’s parade.
“When I got to the line up area, at 6 p.m., there were already floats there preparing,” Wilkinson said. “There were people there that had not even signed up.
And as time passed, more and more participants showed up to the point, I couldn't get everyone in one line. It took three street blocks, all between streets, the entire farmers market, and the visitors center's complete lot to stage the pre-stage the parade.”
Their hard work paid off. The parade, which kicked off at 7 p.m. was well attended, with people lining the streets throughout downtown Palestine along the parade route down Oak, West Main and Sycamore streets.
“The lines of people were never-ending,” said Wilkinson. “I, of course cried, the entire parade. I spent so much time and sleepless nights planning these events, that, when I get to see the joy, the kid's eyes lit up, the families together, the people yelling 'Thank you for saving Christmas,' I just let it all out. I was in pure awe of our community, our participants, and even more, our Lord. I loved every single minute.”
The grand finale of the parade, just like every year in the past, was Santa on the last firetruck ushering the Christmas season to downtown Palestine.
“It took everyone working together to pull it off,” Farris said. “We wanted Jesus to be celebrated and everyone to know the reason for the season, as long as that happened, which I feel it did, and families safely enjoyed a parade, then I am filled with joy.”
Farris said she appreciated all the ‘thank-you’s’ she had received, but noted that this was a group endeavor.
“I must say Rebekah Wilkinson, Judith Cantrell, Jim Missildine and Kristi Missildine, as well as all of the participants of parade, are the ones to thank,” Farris said.
After the parade, Santa photos were taken at Sweet Southern Charm, with hot chocolate, wassail and coffee drinks. Lulu & Kakes was also open for customers.
“Lulu and Kakes had Hot Chocolate going, kids were writing Santa letters, and without having to tell anyone, everyone kept distance,” Wilkinson said. “The next morning waking up to all the pictures, posts, and joy. I still get chills. It was the community effort that made this thing happen.”