BLADENBORO — The Bladenboro Christmas Parade will mark its 40th year on Saturday as the holiday season gets into full swing.
This year the parade's grand marshal will be Charles L. Allen Jr. He currently is band director at North Myrtle Beach High School in Little River, S.C., but is a native of Bladenboro. He has previously taught at schools in North Carolina — such as Wallace-Rose Hill High School, Bladenboro High School and Scotland High School. He has received numerous superior ratings in concert and marching band contests and festivals.
Folks can also attend the “Bit Evans So You Can Go” Scholarship fundraiser that will be held immediately following the parade at the Bladenboro Community Building. Plates cost $6 and wil consist of baked chicken, green beans, slaw, rolls and tea. The scholarship is awarded each year to a student at West Bladen High School.
One of the parade's organizers, Amanda Sykes, said the parade will begin at Bo's Food Store in Bladenboro and wind its way down to end at the Bladenboro Middle School.
Sykes said that there will be singing groups, churches, beauty queens, Shriner's groups, horses and, of course, the arrival of Santa.
The parade has a long history in the town. It can trace its beginnings back to 1973 when Sue Galloway and Jane Walters organized the first parade.
“It started with a Girl Scout troop,” said Walters. “We asked them one year what they wanted to do and one 5-year-old girl spoke up and said 'Let's have a Christmas parade.'”
The legacy is kept alive today, thanks in part to the efforts of Galloway's daughter, Amanda Sykes, Walters, and several other parade committee members and dedicated citizens.
“I got involved when Mama got out of it. I stepped in,” said Sykes.
Sykes has been involved for several years now. The parade committee currently consists of Walters, Sykes, Greg Sykes, Toni Shipman, Susan Inman, Sarah Jane Benson, and Jessica Inman.