Christmas parade steps off tomorrow at 7 p.m.

The holiday season kicks into full gear this week in Cairo with both an old favorite tradition and a newer one taking place in the coming days.
First on the schedule is the annual Christmas Parade, sponsored by Cairo merchants and the Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce and always on the first Thursday in December. The Christmas spirit continues over the weekend with the 4th annual “Christmas Follies” featuring live holiday entertainment.
In the parade, there will be 77 units in addition to a fire engine that will transport the Jolly Old Elf, himself, along the parade route down Broad Street from U.S. 84 to Fourth Avenue SW. Santa Claus is always the parade highlight and the culmination of the festivities.
There are three new businesses that are entering floats for the first time, Stone’s Home Center, Caterpillar International and Southwest Georgia Technical College.
All floats may compete for money and bragging rights for creating a float that best represents the parade’s theme, “Cairo’s Night of Twinkling Lights.” A panel of judges will rate the entries based on originality, theme and design. The coveted honor is the Christmas Spirit Award for best overall  presentation of the theme and its $300 prize. The 1st runner-up for Christmas Spirit wins $200. There are $100 prizes for each of the best floats in the business, civic, school and religion categories. Second and third place winners receive ribbons.
Four marching bands will add holiday music to the lineup. The Grady County Middle School Band is first in the lineup, followed by the Pelham High School Band and the Thomasville High School Marching Band with the Cairo High School Marching Syrupmaker Band rounding out the parade.
All of Grady County’s schools are represented in the parade, with each of the elementary schools entering a float.
Two local groups are selling food as fundraisers during the parade, Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR) and Cairo Rotary Club. The Rotarians will have two locations where they will sell Ken Walden’s chicken pilau and drinks, one will be adjacent to attorney Tom Lehman’s office on North Broad Street and the other will be next to Grady Finance Company on South Broad Street. Proceeds will help underwrite local projects, including the upcoming Father/Daughter Dance. The animal rescue will sell food in front of Miss Myrt’s on South Broad Street with proceeds going to support their efforts to care for abandoned animals. SCAR houses the dogs until they are adopted.
Again, street parking is prohibited between the railroad tracks and Second Avenue N.E. so people can see the parade while standing on the sidewalks.
The city will have extra trash cans and Port-A-Potties along the parade routes for parade spectators.
The Syrup City Players has prepared an entertaining lineup of performers for the “Christmas Follies,” which takes the stage Friday and Saturday evenings.
Audiences will see performances by South Georgia Ballet Conservatory, Cairo High School Drama Club, Washington Middle School Drama Club, Cairo High School Chorus, Thomas University Jazz Ensemble, Redeeming Life Dancers, New Birth Inspirational Choir and more, according to Della Lovett, Follies producer.
The shows get underway at 7:30 p.m. at Southside Elementary School’s auditorium, 491 Third St., S.E. Tickets will be available at the door for $12 each or in advance at Miss Myrt’s and Center Drugs, $12 for adults or $8 for students and seniors.

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