Helena welcomes return of annual Christmas parade

Published 1:51 pm Friday, December 8, 2023

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

HELENA – Helena’s trademark Christmas parade was held to the delight and cheer of hundreds of local residents and visitors on Saturday, Dec. 2.

“It was an amazing turnout,” said Helena City Councilmember Hewy Woodman. “I met several people who had just moved here and were attending for the first time.”

Held on the afternoon after the city’s successful Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the event doubled down on the festivities and further welcomed in the Christmas season with an extended march through Old Town led by a procession of Helena’s current and historical firetrucks.

The Helena High School marching band could be heard up and down the parade route as the majorettes and color guard provided visually stunning performances with their bright red uniforms and flags that contrasted with the overcast sky that has been present during the parade for the past several years.

City officials could be seen throwing candy to those lining both sides of the street and members of the Helena High School homecoming court waved as they rode in a variety of vehicles. Sports teams from Helena’s schools also manned their own floats and tossed candy to the crowd made up of friends, family and fellow classmates.

Among the city’s special guests for the event were State Sen. April Weaver, who rode through the town on a miniature train, State Rep Leigh Hulsey and State Rep. Kenneth Paschal, who waved from a platform float adorned with tinsel and a Christmas tree. Additionally, a multitude of pageant winners representing the area were also present including Miss Senior Alabama and Helena local, Kathy Paiml.

This year’s Christmas parade was themed around the film “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and featured inflatables depicting scenes from the film and parade participants dressed as some of the film’s characters. Most popular of course were the multiple interpretations of “Cousin Eddy” that had multiple floats featuring someone clad in a white bathrobe, winter hat, crushed aluminum can and a large cigar.

The parade included several live animals, including goats, miniature horses and a llama. However, the chief appearance and man of the hour was Santa Claus, who appeared at the end of the parade riding atop one of Helena’s red fire trucks as he waved and greeted the children in attendance.

“With the weather cooperating, the 52nd Christmas parade entertained thousands as it made its way thru our special little hamlet, with the culmination being Santa riding on our own fire truck,” City Council President Alice Lobell said.