‘Tis the season of sparseness. Especially if you’re looking for a Christmas parade. The longtime North Mississippi tradition has, in some places, been canceled due to concerns about spreading the coronavirus during the current pandemic.
Lee County municipalities that have decided not to have parades (or don’t usually have them) are Baldwyn, Plantersville, Shannon, Tupelo and Verona.
Among those, Tupelo’s annual parade is usually the largest of the season, with more than 100 entries and several marching bands. Instead, the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association is producing a video compilation of past parades that can be viewed online at some point in the future, likely on the organization’s website: https://www.tupelomainstreet.com/.
The main street group has also put together several activities – or are helping promote some others – to provide a seasonal spirit lift. From the DTMSA press release: “Stroll downtown, shop, and vote on Community Choice window displays for a chance to win Downtown Dollars (Other categories picked by our judges are Best Overall, Best Display of Merchandise).
“Tupelo High School Madrigals will be doing three socially distanced concerts at 7 p.m. 12/11-12 and 2 p.m. on 12/13 FREE. “ELF the Musical at the Tupelo Community Theater 12/1 at 7:30 p.m. 12/3 - 12/4 at 7:30 p.m. and 12/5 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students and younger.”
Across town, a yearly tradition will continue in an altered state. The lighting of Ballard Park by the Tupelo Parks & Recreation department will be held Tuesday, December 1, at 6 p.m. in the park. Unlike years past, there will be no in-person “flipping the switch” to turn on the lights. There will be a brief ceremony followed by a fireworks show, then the lights will be turned on. The department strongly suggests attendees follow social distancing protocols, including viewing the fireworks from inside their cars. After the lighting, folks are invited to walk along the lake to see the display but are urged to continue social distancing.
The first parade of the season happens on Monday, November 30, in Nettleton at 7 p.m. There is a $10 entry fee, with first through third place winners receiving $300, $200 and $100, respectively. Registration forms are available at city hall or online at nettleton.ms.us. For more information, call 963-2605 or 523-0290. As a bonus, the night before, Sunday, November 29, 5-7 p.m. “Light Up Nettleton” will make its inaugural debut. Citizens are invited to “bring a shatterproof ornament to hang on the town tree.” Personalized ornaments will also be sold there, $5 each, and pictures with Santa are $10. Hot chocolate and cookies will be provided as will carols performed by the Nettleton High School Choir.
Guntown will hold its parade Saturday, December 5, at 6 p.m.; lineup begins at 5:15 p.m. It is free to participate but the city asks participants to register by email sent to email@example.com. The Grand Marshal will be Jimmy Dale Herring while Citizen of the Year James Knowles will also be honored. Organizers ask that no entries include Santa Claus since the distinguished gentleman will bring up the rear of the parade. For more information, call 255-7620 or 397-0037.
Saltillo’s parade will be the final one of the year, on Tuesday, December 8, at 6 p.m. It will follow its usual route from First Baptist Church along Mobile Street to City Hall. The theme, appropriately, is “What A Year.” It is free to enter but entrants are asked to register by calling City Hall – 869-5431. Grand Marshals are Saltillo Citizens of the Year, Brad and Deana Jackson. The Saltillo High School and Guntown Middle School bands are scheduled to attend but, as with all school-related activities, they are subject to coronavirus lockdown rules that could prevent their appearance.
C. Richard Cotton
243 County Road 783
Saltillo MS 38866