A crowd estimated at over 1,000 people turned out Saturday
for the annual Alton Christmas Parade, an event that organizers
say was one of the biggest and best Yule parades staged in the
community in years.
"We were very pleased," said Stacy Hughes, of the parade that carried the theme "A Christmas In The Country."
"We couldn't have asked for better weather, a better crowd, or better parade.
The bulk of the crowd usually congregates in the middle of "downtown" Alton and it did Saturday. But, Hughes noted, there were good numbers of people all along the parade route to view the 85 units that were entered in the parade.
"It was packed from beginning to end," Hughes said.
"People were lined up all the way through the parade route. It has been a few years since we've had a crowd like this."
As promised, Santa Claus' entry into Alton came in a somewhat unusual fashion. Santa arrived aboard a boat - boat that was pulling two "skiing" elves.
If there was a downside it was that Hughes, who was playing the role of one of the "skiing" elves, fell and broke her ankle.
Yet, she took it all in stride.
"If it had to happen I'm glad it happened to me," Hughes said.
"I would have felt bad if it had happened to someone else."
The entry of the Church of God of Prophecy won the award for Best Religious Float, the float entitled "Hillbilly Christmas" won the award for Most Original Float, and the Alton Homemakers Club entry won the Most Creative Float Award.
Morgan Link won the award for Best Dressed Horse and Rider, the Winston-Salem, N.C. YMCA won the First Place Band award and the Halifax County High School JROTC won the First Place Drill Team award.
Each of those winners received a cash prize.
Also Saturday there was a drawing for a $100 bill with Bill Short of South Boston winning that prize. Eight other door prizes donated by area businesses were also given away during the event.
In addition to the parade the Alton Homemakers Club, the Alton Baptist Church Youth, and Cedar Grove Church all held bake sales with all three groups recording sellouts of their goods.
The Turbeville Ruritan Club made and sold a Brunswick Stew and that was a sellout as well. Hughes also reported that the hotdogs that were on sale were also a sellout.
To add a festive touch, Christmas music was played before and after the parade in the heart of "downtown" Alton.
"People seemed to come out and stay for awhile," Hughes said.
"And, I think the Christmas music helped make it all seem a little more festive and help put people in the Christmas spirit."
Even though this year's Alton Christmas Parade is just past, Hughes says plans for the 1999 Alton Christmas Parade are already in the works.
Next year's parade will be held the Saturday before Christmas at 11 a.m. and will be held rain or shine.
And the theme for next year's Yule parade will again be "A Christmas In the Country."