Just what the doctor ordered…Parade smiles and laughter

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CCM Staff Report

If there are positives to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be that many of us have learned that change is acceptable, it’s ok to establish new traditions and, even in the face of adversity, smiles and kindness are the best medicine.

All these were on display Nov. 28 when the traditional Christmas parade, if there was to be one in 2020, had to take on a new form.

“When we learned from the county health district, Governor Mike DeWine’s order on public gatherings prohibited us from having the traditional Christmas parade, it would have been easy to throw in the towel and cancel the event,” said Carol McIntire, owner of The Messenger, which took the lead in planning this year’s event. “The Rotary Club, decided to cancel the parade due to the pandemic, but a few of us didn’t want to take the tradition away from the kids or even adults in the community who love the parade.”

Working with health district officials, the idea of a drive-thru parade at the county fairgrounds was born and it was decided to move it to later in the day and so entries could feature holiday lights.  Next came the logistics of planning the event: would local organizations embrace the idea? Would residents come?

Those questions were answered with a resounding “yes” Saturday.

Vehicles began lining up before 4:30 p.m. at the north gate of the fairgrounds prior to the 5 p.m. opening time.  By just after 8 p.m., nearly 400 vehicles had driven the “loop” around the midway and made their way out the exit gate.

Along the way, children were treated to candy from the likes of Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch and his dog “Max” and residents from Whoville, cookies donated by Shannon’s Sugar Shack, Betty Kaye Bakery and Ulman’s Bakery, hot chocolate from the Carroll County Dairy Promotion Board and a drive-by visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus along with a “goodie bag.” Disc jockey Tom Spiker set the mood with Christmas music.

“It was amazing!” said McIntire. “I was at the north gate signing in parade participants and cars started pulling in, saying there were there for the parade. It wasn’t even 4:30 yet and we still had a few entries yet to arrive, so we filled up the lot adjacent to the fairgrounds at the county garage with cars. Other drivers agreed to make a lap around town and come back.

By 5 p.m., when cars began to move through the parade route, we had traffic backed up both ways on Kensington Rd. There were so many cars we had to have a sheriff deputy and Carrollton patrolman direct traffic. The street was closed to non-parade traffic.

Families piled into the beds of pickup trucks, kid peeked out of sunroofs in vehicles.

“I have to admit, there were a few nights last week when I didn’t get much sleep, worrying about the decision to move forward with the parade in light of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases,” McIntire added. “But the smiles on the faces of all those kids and all the thank you’s participants received was proof a parade was the perfect medicine for our community.”

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