Holiday time means parade time in DeSoto County, a time that started Thursday night in Southaven, will continue today in Olive Branch and Horn Lake, and climax in Hernando on Monday.
This afternoon at 2 p.m., the 41st annual Olive Branch Christmas Parade will be held and again focus on the Old Towne center of the city. Bands, vehicles, floats and marching groups will again trek the route.
Units will be lined up from the Olive Branch High School parking lot up to Olive Branch Elementary School, where the parade will begin.
From there, the parade will come up Pigeon Roost Road into Old Towne, then make a turn at Highway 305 and go south to College Street, then to Blocker Street and end near Blocker and Roberta Drive.
The theme of the parade is “The Gift of Christmas” and the co-Grand Marshals this year are Pat and Diane Dorr.
Pat recently retired as President of First Security Bank in Olive Branch and Diane was a teacher in DeSoto County Schools for many years, retiring from Olive Branch Middle School.
Pat said the city has been an integral part of his family’s life.
“We have seen Olive Branch grow from a small town to what it is today,” Dorr said. “It’s been a great place to raise a family. Our children went to school here, grew up here and now we have grandchildren who go to Lewisburg schools but it’s still Olive Branch. It’s a joy to see Olive Branch grow the way it has over the years.”
The Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce will host a unique Christmas event later this afternoon. Between 4:30-7:30 p.m., an event called “Christmas in the Park” at Latimer Lakes Park, will take place.
Instead of a marching parade down a city street, Chamber Executive Director Varina Hopper welcomed people to come and walk through the park with a special setting made to welcome the holidays.
“We are having a lot of people set up different types of tents and settings and different Christmas vignettes that will entice people to walk through the park,” Hopper said. “There will be Christmas caroling, hot chocolate served, even a Christmas photo booth.”
Santa will make his entrance to the Horn Lake event around 5:30 p.m., brought in with the Horn Lake High School band, followed by Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick helping light the Christmas tree.
Those who come to the Horn Lake event should enter Latimer Lakes Park through the Tulane Road entrance. The Nail Road entrance will also be available until Santa is ready to make his appearance around 5:15 p.m.
Hopper said the event should provide for a safe, family-friendly way to welcome the Christmas season.
“We wanted to create more of a community event,” said Hopper. “We wanted to create a safe location for the children to experience the excitement of Christmas. We felt that this gave those participating a chance to do something unique and actually be able to have conversations with people.”
The holiday parade season started Thursday night, as thousands lined Stateline Road/Main Street for the 37th annual Christmas Parade of Lights in Southaven.
Steve Allen of A&B Distributing, the current Chamber of Commerce Board President, served as Grand Marshal for the event, as bands, floats and groups proceeded down the street toward the Southaven City Hall.
“I was honored to represent the Chamber and the community of Southaven in something that brings all the families together,” Allen said. “I was impressed with the amount of work that a lot of people put in to their floats. It was nice seeing all of the little kids and families along the parade route enjoying the event.”
Chamber Executive Director Carmen Kyle noted there was more participation this year, worth the work her organization puts into the annual kickoff for the Christmas season.
“It is an undertaking for sure but so worth it seeing the thousands of parade goers with smiles on their faces as we celebrate this Christmas season,” Kyle said.
New this year was the start of the parade route, with staging being done at SouthPoint Church and the route taking a straight shot down Stateline on to Main Street.
“The slight change in the route was due mainly to safety and we believe it was a huge success,” Kyle said. “Not only did it allow us a more fluid parade route but lighting and space was perfect. The Southaven Christmas Parade 2017 was a great success and we’re looking forward to next year.”
Wrapping up the Christmas parade season in DeSoto County will be the Hernando event on Monday night. The theme of the parade this year is, “Let It Snow.”
The parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. with staging starting at 5:30 p.m. Participants are asked to enter the Hernando Industrial Park staging area between 5:30 and 6 p.m.
If there is inclement weather that would force cancelation of the parade, a Dec. 11 “rain date” has been set.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.