Hamlet Christmas Parade seeks entries

HBDA takes organizational reigns from Hamlet Rotary Club 

By Kevin Spradlin

The year 2014 almost became known as the year the Hamlet Christmas Parade wasn’t.

Thanks to key volunteers from the Hamlet Business Development Association, however, the parade will go on. It is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. start on Thursday, Dec. 11. It is the kickoff to three consecutive days, as Hamlet’s Old-Fashioned Christmas is celebrated that Friday and Saturday.

Photo courtesy city of Hamlet

Photo courtesy city of Hamlet

First up, however, is a Main Street parade to ring in Christmas.

HBDA President Ron Mayo said Thursday that committed entrants include Sen. Gene McLaurin, Rep. Ken Goodman, Hoffman Mayor Tommy Hart, Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless, Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue, Ellerbe Mayor Lee Berry, Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris and Norman Mayor Kenneth Broadway. Vehicles will be supplied by Griffin Nissan, Mayo said.

“I know that the city of Hamlet has had this parade for I don’t know how many years” as sponsored and organized by the Hamlet Rotary Club, Bayless said. “We sure didn’t want to let it go.”

Enter Mayo and the HBDA. Rotary officials notified City Hall the parade might disappear. Mayo said that was due to a decline in membership — something traditional civic organizations are dealing with across the country. But with Bayless and other city officials reached out to the HBDA, “they were just excited about it.”

Rotary member Reba Dilly, Hamlet branch manager for BB&T Bank, is helping with the transition, both Mayo and Bayless said. Mayo said David and Kim Lindsey, from Vector Shirts, also have been critical to the success of this year’s parade.

“Everybody is pulling together,” Mayo said. “It’s a big task.”

Mayo, organizer of the Friday night classic car cruise-ins in Hamlet, said those classic cars are returning for the parade. So is Miss North Carolina Beth Stovall.

Mayo said first-responders will be well-represented. Rodney Tucker, acting Hamlet police chief, along with Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly and Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. also are scheduled to be in the lineup, and “all the fire departments in the county” have been invited.

“It is a whole-county event,” Mayo said. “Anybody that wants to participate, can.”

Applications to be in the parade can be picked up at City Hall or downloaded here. Float entries are $400 apiece or $200 for half-float entries. There is a limit of 20 commercial, pre-docorated floats available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Entry fee is $25 per motorized vehicle. Walkers are $10 each with a cap of $50 per group. Motorized parade entrants are to meet at the Hamlet Fairgrounds. Walkers are to meet at the Hamlet Depot on Main Street. Walkers includes those on bicycles. Fees must be paid no later than Dec. 1.

Proceeds from the parade will be distributed to Hamlet area charities, Mayo said.

The Christmas season in Hamlet gets started on Dec. 1. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., the city of Hamlet will stage the 28th annual Community Tree Lighting. The program includes singing, performances by local youth groups and the reading of the Christmas Story along with the official lighting of the tree.

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