Oh, what a difference a year makes!
The 2013 Ava Christmas Parade was canceled due to ice and snow. Schools had been closed for more than a week for the same reason, and the Ava Chamber of Commerce determined that it would not be in the best interest of the public to hold a parade.
But this year was different!
Huge crowds took advantage of the moderate December afternoon temperatures and lined both sides of Jefferson Street that would make up the parade route, and the Ava square was jam-packed with spectators as the parade made its way into the downtown area.
The parade stretched the full length of the parade route, with floats, cars, horses, fire trucks and marching units – including the Ava High School band – participating in the march that began at Industrial Road north of Copeland.
The parade would begin on schedule at 1 p.m., but long before noon many people had parked their cars in strategic locations along the parade route in anticipation of the annual march that would be led in the traditional manner by the Ava Police Department and the American Legion color guard.
The Chamber of Commerce had some 60 units entered for placement by the Ava Lions Club that coordinates the lineup process at the north edge of town, and additional entries were added at the last minute to make up another outstanding Christmas parade.
Arriving at the end of the parade on the back of an Ava fire truck was Old St. Nick himself, Santa Claus.
Preceding the parade on Friday night was the annual Friday Night Frolic which included music by the Ava High School jazz band, Christmas caroling, craft items for the kids, and the crowning of Little Miss and Little Master Merry Christmas.
Little Miss Merry Christmas is Diana Patel, a first grade student at Ava Victory Academy, and Master Merry Christmas is Alex Evans, a first grader at Ava Elementary School.
Also introduced was Ava High School Anchor Club Miss Merry Christmas Keeley Deal who would ride in the parade on Saturday.
On the square Friday night, children had an opportunity to have their pictures taken with Santa, and food items and hot drinks were available from Ava Kiwanis Club, the Douglas County Fair Association, and the Girl Scouts.
This year’s Christmas Parade Theme was “Christmas Around the World” and floats were awarded cash prizes in four places.
Claiming the grand prize and $400 was Faith Riders Cowboy Church. First place and $200 went to Fraternal Order of Eagles; 2nd place and $150 was collected by Mt. Zion Bible School; and the $100 third place prize went to First Southern Baptist Church.
Winners of other categories of judging included:
Decorated Automobiles (cars & trucks)–1st place, Francis Marler, “Smart Car”; 2nd place, Howard Price, 1953 Chevy; 3rd place, Larry Hutchison, 1994 GT Mustang.
Horses–1st place, Clinkingbeard Farms, draft horses (Red & Murl); 2nd, Cheyenne Willis and Rebel; and 3rd place, Yvonne Honerkamp and Redemption.
Four-Wheelers (golf carts, ATVs, dune buggies, etc.)–1st place, Kathleen Deatherage golf cart; 2nd place, Mercy Clinic, five golf carts; and 3rd place, Jim Mills, dune buggy.
Residential lighting and storefront decorations were judged on Saturday night following the parade with winners announced as follows:
Residential–1st place, Jay McIntosh, 409 NE 5th Street; 2nd place, Joe Cox, 401 NW 12th Street; 3rd place, Helen Spurgeon, 208 NE 5th Street.
1st place, Jean’s Healthway, SW corner Ava square; 2nd place, Roger’s Appliances, north side Ava square; 3rd place, Ava Art Guild, 303 E. Washington Ave.
Oh, what a difference a year makes!