By Jeanne LeFlore
And the winner is:
• 1st Place: Independent Insurance Agency, “Polar Express” train float.
• 2nd Place: New Life 313 Church, “It’s a Wonderful Life” float.
• 3rd Place: Pride In McAlester, “Charlie Brown Christmas” float.
People lined up on the sidewalks of Carl Albert Parkway and Choctaw Avenue on Thursday night to catch a glimpse of Santa during McAlester Main Street’s annual Christmas parade. The theme this year was “Christmas in the Movies.”
The parade was originally set for Dec. 5 but was rescheduled to Thursday because of bad weather, according to Ginny Webb, executive director of McAlester Main Street.
During the parade, movie-themed floats as well as traditional floats, the McAlester High School marching band, MHS pom and cheer squads, as well as other organizations such as the Shriners, all made their appearance in the cold night air.
Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns led the parade as he waved to the crowd from the top of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle — it looks like a tank — followed by several police and fire vehicles, all with lights flashing and sirens blaring.
But the last float carrying Santa Claus appeared to be the biggest attention-getter of all.
Victoria Garza, 12, and her sister, Gabriella Garza, 10, said they loved the parade.
"Its awesome,” Victoria said.
Deborah Necessity and Rory Robertson said they traveled from Muskogee to take part in the parade, representing the Bedouin Shriners.
“There were lots of people out there watching and cheering on the parade,” Robertson said.
“We really enjoyed it.”
The parade route officially started at 7 p.m. at proceed east on Carl Albert Parkway from Main Street, then turned south on Fifth Street and then back west on Choctaw Avenue. The parade ended at Choctaw Avenue and Main Street.
During the parade, the float entries were judged from a stage at Choctaw Avenue and First Street and cash prizes and trophies were awarded
This year’s judges were Rebekah Kelton, Clem Santine and Megan Waters, according to Webb.
Judges awarded first place and $300 to Independent Insurance Agency for its “Polar Express” train float. Second place and $200 were awarded to New Life 313 Church with its “It’s a Wonderful Life” float; third place and $100 were awarded to Pride In McAlester with its “Charlie Brown Christmas” float, according to Webb.
She said judging was based on originality, adherence to the parade theme and difficulty of workmanship.
Webb said Arrowhead State Park participated for the first time this year with a float depicting children sitting around a campfire.
Overall, Webb said even with the rescheduling of the parade, the entire event was a success.
Contact Jeanne LeFlore at email@example.com.