Italy — One of my favorite memories of growing up in Italy was the Christmas Parade. We all wanted to be in it and I always enjoyed riding the fire truck. And just like back in the day, the Italy Gladiator Regiment Marching Band provided the holiday tunes, the Italy High School cheerleaders provided the spirit escorted by lieutenant Brad Chambers of the Italy Fire Department. A variety of creative floats, as always, topped off a fun memory for the little ones.
With Italy Police Chief Diron Hill leading the parade, the 2013 Italy Christmas Festival and Parade officially began as candy and treats quickly consumed main street. The Grinch couldn’t steal Christmas this year thanks to the Ellis County Sheriff Explorers who had the grumpy one locked up nice and tight. Members of the Stagecoach Cowboy Church rode in with a beautiful horse drawn wagon and there was even a fully dressed indian greeting the folks.
Trinity Mission-Italy participated in the parade as did First State Bank-Italy. The Stafford Elementary Student Council tossed candy from their float complete with a Christmas tree and several Italy HS seniors boarded a trailer to partake in the parade. Mayor James Hobbs and his wife Joyce appeared in the convoy along with by Ryan “Birdman” Parrott who was also the parade’s grand marshal. A veteran Navy Seal, Parrott received a key to our fair city from Mayor Hobbs.
No Christmas parade would be complete without an appearance from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Playing the roles of North Pole royalty were Karen and Donald Brummett as they made their approach down main street on the back of an Italy fire truck with the red sirens reminiscent of Rudolph’s glowing nose. After waving to the crowd to conclude the parade, Santa and Mrs. Clause set up shop inside the community center where they asked the kiddos the most important question a youngster could be asked, “What do you want for Christmas?”
The fun was just beginning with the vendor booths and Christmas decorations filling the center. Many parade goers ventured into The Uptown Cafe, owned by Doris Mitchell, for a warm meal on a cold day while other hurried straight to the downtown pavilion where Bryant Cockran played MC and members of the school band played a series of Christmas songs with Kyle Tindol, Eli Garcia, David de La Hoya, Amber Hooker and Madison Washington performing amazingly well considering the chilly temperature.
Also performing live were Pastor Joseph Barrett on guitar, Brett Kirton on the Djembe drum and Ed Norman on banjo. The crowd migrated toward the Christmas tree under the pavilion as Italy ISD school board member Sal Ramirez and his wife Rana collected tickets for the prize drawing. Everyone toughed out the chill in hopes Cockran might call their name as a winner of one of the many donated items. The donated items ranged from large HD TVs, iPads and toys. Also assisting Cockran was Nancy Hinojosa with Tri-County Appliance, LLC Heating & Air Conditioning-Italy who helped organize this year’s event.
Special thanks to the City of Italy, Forreston Fire Department, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department and to all the organizations, churches and businesses and volunteers that participated and helped make the festival and parade one the kids will always remember!