Lepanto Community Christmas Committee will hold parade on Saturday
In November 1989, a group of dedicated women founded the Lepanto Community Christmas Committee. With almost 50 people in attendance at the first meeting, the committee decided to clean up, fix up and light up Lepanto. With the help of donations from the community, the committee decorated Main Street and held Lepanto's first Christmas Parade.
All the businesses decorated, which in turn made more of the residents "Light up, Fix up and Decorate." The Commercial Appeal labeled Lepanto the "Little Christmas Village" and said "Santa sure couldn't miss it."
The committee along with the high school art class painted store windows. A Memorial Tree was purchased and "Charlie Brown Christmas Trees" lined Main Street. Plaques for Best Decorated Merchants and Grand Marshal were purchased and placed in the City Hall. Decorating contests for merchants and residents were held and a Coloring Contest with prizes for the elementary school children all became a Lepanto tradition.
This year, the committee helped donate to the Lion's Club food basket.
With only a handful of people, the committee's efforts have been successful in creating an interest and pride in Lepanto. "Our hopes are that the committee will grow because we have plans that will improve Lepanto," said Kaye Holiman, committee chairman.
"Our small town became the first small town in this area to hold a Christmas parade, holiday open house, shopping contests and drawings," said Holiman. "This is a non-profit organization that has no city or government involvement so in order to continue this operation, the committee's fund raiser is the Community Birthday Calendar."
The Community Parade is the committee's biggest most successful endeavor. It reaches people of all ages and has outstanding involvement. The parade usually features anywhere from 50-100 entries including floats, bands, radio and TV personalities, dignitaries, antiques, equestrians, scout and school groups, from such places as Osceola, Jonesboro, Blytheville, Caraway, Lake City, Keiser, Dyess, Marked Tree, Monette, Harrisburg, Cardwell Mo., Memphis Tenn.
The committee has announced that the 2002 Christmas Parade Grand Marshal will be Mary Katherine Murphy Williams.
To be considered as grand marshal of the parade, the committee always looks for someone who is beneficial to the community and works hard promoting and enhancing Lepanto. She represents all of these qualities. Mrs. Williams is the owner of Murphy Funeral Homes in Lepanto and Marked Tree. The business has been family owned and operated since 1911. Her family is one of the pioneer families of Lepanto. Master of Ceremonies is Rick Harrell.
Past grand marshals have been Hays McArthur Jr., Sue Chambers, Glen and Deetress Neal, Grady Watkins, Malcolm and Donna Patterson, Rev. Sylvester Brannon, Billie McClellan, Coach Todd Lovell, Rev. Greg Dills, Bill Hudgens, Guy Spears, Judy Bradford, Imogene and Bobby Harris.
This is the 14th year for the parade and it will be held Sat. Dec. 14 at 4:30 p.m. on Main Street. The parade route, proceed down Main, turn left on Holmes and left on Alexander. Late entries will be accepted through Thursday but all entries must complete an entry form to participate. No one will be allowed without returning signed form.
Cash prizes will be awarded for best decorated floats. First place is $100, Second place $75 and Third $50. In order to be judged, entrants must arrive 45 minutes early. For more information or an entry form, interested persons may call Kaye Holiman at 475-6084.
The parade is being held in conjunction with the Friends of the Library's Holiday Tables and Holiday Open Houses held at Etta's Fashions, Victorian Rose and The Floral Gallery.