Altoona kicks off Christmas parade season


 By Donna Thornton/News Editor
    Kevin Wilbert is praying for good weather the evening of Nov. 30, when the Altoona Christmas Parade will makes its way through the west Etowah County town, with at least 120 or 130 entries.
    “It’s looking really good for the parade,” organizer Wilbert said. “We may have 140 entries like last year.”
    This year’s parade will feature entries from Gatlinburg and Atlanta, Aubie, Big Al and the Jacksonville State University mascot, the U.S. Army Marching Band from Huntsville, classic cars, horses and a variety of other entries.
    The parade’s Grand Marshals will be U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Jennifer Chandler and television actor John Volstad, who played “other brother Darryl” on the Newhart show.
    Former Alabama football star Siran Stacy will appear, and the Snead State Jazz Band will perform.
    Wilbert said the First Methodist Church of Altoona will provide refreshments at their fellowship hall, and there will be chili and hot chocolate at the Altoona Fire Hall.
    Santa Claus will be at the fire hall after the parade for pictures and to take children’s Christmas requests.
    There also will be several vendors, including someone selling the kind of light-up toys sold prior to the Disney World parades.  Such toys won’t be the only Disney World connection. Wilbert previously worked at Disney World in the organization of the Epcot Parade.
    Wilbert grew up in Altoona and though he now lives and works in Wichita, Kan., he continues to help organize the parade in his hometown. Wilbert said he’d be flying in for a few days around parade time.
    Wilbert said he remembers six or seven years ago when the parade averaged about 60 entries. He has been pleased with the growth since then. Al-toona’s parade is listed among the events on the Alabama Tourism Bureau’s web site, where it is described as one the state’s most popular parades and continues to grow.
    Wilbert said the parade will start at 7 p.m. at 6th Street near the First United Methodist Church, then travel onto Ala. Hwy. 132 and end near the First Baptist Church in Altoona.
    Other local Christmas parades include:
     Altoona Christmas Parade – 7 p.m., Nov. 30. No entry fee. For more information, call Kevin Wilbert at 205-589-2654.
    Hokes Bluff Christmas Parade – 1 p.m. Dec. 1. Participant applications may be picked up at Hokes Bluff City Hall or at the library. Deadline for entries is Nov. 26. For more information call Betty Loggins, 256-492-5599 or Linda Sosebee, 2560492-9006.
    Gadsden Christmas Parade – 6 p.m. Dec. 3 on Broad Street in downtown Gadsden. Call Gadsden Parks and Recreation at 256-549-4680 or Glenda at 256-549-8420.
    Attalla Christmas Parade – 6 p.m. Dec. 6 on Fourth Street in downtown Attalla. Stop by the Gazebo for free hot cider or coffee and visit with Santa Claus. For more information, call Lisa at 256-538-1872.
    Carver Community Revitalization Committee Christmas Parade – 4 p.m. Dec. 15. The parade theme is “Joy to the World.” The parade will start at Old Goodyear Warehouse (corner of N. 6th Street and Tuscaloosa Avenue) and ends on Jacksonville Court. An entry fee of $15 is due by Dec. 11. For more information contact Jalania Harris (256) 390-0504 or Billy Billingsley (256) 543-1604.

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