By Rick Kennedy, managing editor | Photos by Jesse Evans
It was a clear and cool night Monday, but no rain as downtown Hope saw hundreds in the streets to welcome the 2018 Hope Chamber Christmas parade. The festive mood was upbeat this year as several dozen families, appropriately bundled in jackets, hats, and blankets, waited with an optimistic anticipation a full half-hour before the motorcade started.
As one young spectator put it, “Not gonna rain on our parade this time.”
And right at 6 p.m., the motorcade started its way from south Main Street, ushered north into downtown by the familiar sirens of the Hope Police and Hempstead County Sheriff. Between the marchers, floats, and individuals, some 30 entities were seen in the caravan, winding its way down Main Street, then a sharp turn at 2nd Street into Elm, then turning at Elm in front of the LaGrone Williams hardware store before proceeding to another turn at Division for the final leg of the parade before the last turn down Walnut.
There was traditional marching music and drums played by the Hope High School band,and the expected flurry of bright lights and colorful decorated floats. With Little Miss Southwest District Blakely Herring rode high atop a silver SUV, Miss Hempstead County Bailey Yocom was actually on foot behind a golf cart and a wave of Corvettes, waving to folks directly in person along the streets.
UAHT Chancellor Chris Thomason, honored as Educator of the Year, sat at the head of a large rig pulled by a white Hope Auto truck, with the two Citizens of the Year, Jerry and Twyla Pruden, both seated directly behind him as well as the owners and employees of Hope Floral, the Business of the Year.
There was also a group of innovative souls who cleverly decorated a fleet of riding lawn mowers with lights and rode them through the parade. Another fleet, this time, motorcycles also came through, decorated with lights and one with special lightening rods attached.
Approximately 50 persons had been stationed on Elm Street in the parking lot directly across from the BanCorp South building and had to scurrie about to the corner of 2nd and Elm to witness the proceedings.
A big crowd was nestled between Main and Elm along 2nd, adjacent to the side entrance of the Chamber office in lawn chairs and blankets, and Division Street near the VIC Depot and Tailgaters was also line with parade viewers.
Kathy Akin, who braved the cool temperatures with a jacket, hat and scarf, with her husband, John, said “It looks like they have a good turnout.”
The Christmas parade featured Santa Claus at the end. Per tradition, he rode high atop the streets of Hope with the Hope Fire Department.
The night was capped downtown by the lighting of the City of Hope Community Christmas tree, stationed on the outside deck of the downtown VIC Depot. The 16-foot industrial quality artificial tree was already adorned with colorful ball ornaments, which were displayed at the last Hope Tourism Commission meeting.
The Tourism Commission itself had purchased the Commuity Christmas tree in January 2017 for $3,000, a special after-season price, and received it that June. It made its Hope public debut last year in December 2017, and this year is its second outing.