Shouts of excitement from youngsters waiting at the intersection of Main Street and Second Avenue in Mayodan usually accompanies the beginning of the annual Madison-Mayodan Jaycees Christmas Parade as blue lights from the lead police car are seen cresting the hill on the way down to the intersection. Those shouts should be heard about 1 p.m. Saturday as the 2012 edition of the parade gets underway.
“I know the excitement really begins then for spectators, but it’s been building for weeks for all of us involved in putting the parade together,” Crockett Saunders said.
Saunders has helped organize the parade for several years and knows the hours of work it takes to make something with up to 100 entries flow smoothly over a 2.5-mile route. With a path that spans two neighboring towns, it’s not unusual to have the lead group – the Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard from McMichael High School – only halfway through the parade by the time the last float – that would be Santa Claus – leaves the staging area in Mayodan.
Although Crockett does not expect a lot of surprises for this year’s parade, there will be one slight change – the Grand Marshal will not be at the front of the parade.
“We decided to let Santa be the Grand Marshal this year, so that honor will come at the end instead of the beginning,” Saunders said.
While Saunders and his fellow Jaycees work to keep floats, dancers, Scouts and other entries flowing smoothly from the Mayodan streets around Elliott Duncan Memorial Park, police officers from both Mayodan and Madison go into action to keep those units moving from the park to the town clock in Madison.
Madison Police Chief Charles Caruso says the challenge is to keep the parade flowing while keeping regular traffic in check. Caruso said it’s a matter of folks planning ahead to be where they want to be between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. well ahead of time.
Parade entries will begin lining up on the side streets around Elliott Duncan Memorial Park about noon Saturday. Caruso said officers will block off Main Street at Seventh Avenue about 12:30 p.m and parts of Second Avenue prior to the parade’s 1 p.m. start.
“Second Avenue will be blocked off from just north of Main Street and south toward Madison just before the parade gets underway,” Bullins said. “Then the roadblocks will keep rolling ahead of the lead units all the way to the end. We’ll open up the roads as soon as we can after the last units roll through.”
The parade route works its way south from Second Avenue to Highway Street to Decatur Street before turning right onto Franklin Street in Madison. One block later, it turns left onto Murphy Street and ends at the town clock.
Madison Police Chief Perry Webster said Madison’s officers would close off the area around the parade’s ending point to prevent a bottleneck.
“We’re going to try to keep the end of the parade from backing up the rest of the procession this year by asking parents picking up children to wait for them along Dalton Street and not tie up the end of the route,” Webster said.
In addition to the normal professional and homemade floats, this year’s parade will consist of local and county officials, beauty queens, several local dance teams, antique cars and trucks, and plenty of horses and riders. And every entry will have plenty of candy and treats to distribute to spectators along the route.
For additional information concerning Saturday’s parade, contact Saunders at 949-4510 or Roberto de la Cruz at 552-6225.