Santa made one of his first stops of the holiday season in Vinton on November 30 at the annual Vinton Christmas Parade.
The Town of Vinton and the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce collaborate to produce the parade each year— usually the first in the valley. The Chamber of Commerce started the tradition with a small parade back in the 1950s.
The festivities in Vinton included much more than the parade. The evening kicked off with the Vinton Breakfast Lions Club Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser at the Vinton VFW Hall on Lee Avenue.
A tree lighting ceremony was held at the Municipal Building on Pollard Street with the William Byrd High School Marching Terriers, led by Director Dan Plybon, performing holiday favorites with a sing-along.
The Floyd Ward Dance Ensemble followed with a performance on the Municipal Building Stage. The pre-parade activities wrapped up with vocalists Tela Espelage and Tommy Curro, both students at William Byrd.
The parade featured about 90 entries, including the William Byrd, Cave Spring, Northside, and Staunton River High School bands. There were baton twirlers, cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, the RCACP Mobile Pet Adoption unit, business vehicles, and the Kazim Temple clowns, joined by the newly formed Kazim Shriners Mystic Pirates.
Many impressive floats were decorated and entered by school, church, and civic organizations. They were judged in religious and non-religious categories, with first, second, and third places awarded, plus the Mayor’s Award, and special children’s awards.
First place in the Religious Category was awarded to New Testament Baptist Church; second place went to Roanoke Adventist Prep School; the Mount Pleasant Baptist Children’s Choir won third place.
In the Non-Religious Category, first place went to the Virginia Veterans Care Center; second place to the SPCA; and third place to the Town of Vinton, who entered the parade contest for the first time.
The Mayor’s Award went to VICE/John Deere entry. The Vinton Terrier Cheer 12U float was named “Best Children’s Float.” The William Byrd Middle School girls basketball float was named “Best Children’s Other” winner. The children’s awards are sponsored by Eric Thomas of Olde Colony Realty.
The parade route began at the former William Byrd High School, continued up Gus Nicks Boulevard, wound through the downtown streets, then turned back onto Washington Avenue and traveled on to the Vinton War Memorial. Santa and Mrs. Claus rode in their traditional spot atop a fire engine to conclude the parade, joined by many children and first responders.
The town and Chamber then hosted an After Parade Open House at the War Memorial with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus available to hear the children’s requests and to pose for photos. Cookies and beverages were served. Visitors were encouraged to make Christmas cards for veterans. Musician Keith Woods performed favorite holiday tunes. The evening concluded with the announcement of the Parade entry winners for 2017.
Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Angie Chewning described this year’s Vinton parade as “Over the top!”
“I hope everyone had a great time at the Christmas Parade,” said Chewning. “I know I did. I think it was one of our larger crowds. The weather was perfect; the floats and entries were over the top, and the crowd was there for a good time.
“Many thanks to so many people–our sponsors, our volunteers, all the many parade entries, the Vinton War Memorial and staff, and the Town of Vinton,” Chewning said. “Not only did the town put in a float for the first time– and nailed it– but all the many hours that they put in to set up and clean up! Long after everyone is gone and probably in their beds, the Public Works Department still has many hours of work to clean up our town, unblock roads, and get things back in shape so the morning commuters have no idea something big just happened. They are always on top of things and always go the extra mile to make this town great. Many thanks to our downtown businesses– I hope you had a great night and, of course, to everyone who came out to support the parade and kick off the Holiday Season, Merry Christmas!”
“I was blown away by how awesome the Christmas Parade was,” commented Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce President Justin Davison. “To see all the smiling faces from beginning to end, but also to see all the businesses and organizations spotlighted and enjoying themselves really resonated with me. I love the collaboration between the Town of Vinton and the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce with this event.
“All of the floats were amazing, and the Town of Vinton and their Vinton Flyer was something that will stick in my brain for the whole holiday season,” added Davison. “I appreciate the Public Works folks and how they handle the logistics with ease, and every volunteer who helps put this great parade on.
“Last but not least, I appreciate every person who came out to enjoy the parade, every entry, and every sponsor that makes the parade possible and allows us to connect with the community in such an amazing way,” he continued. “I feel like the holiday season has officially started and I couldn’t be happier to be In Vinton!”
Sponsors of the Vinton Christmas Parade include the Town of Vinton, Roanoke County, Freedom First, BB&T, HomeTrust Bank, the Vinton Moose Lodge, Magnets USA, Lotz Funeral Home, Grand Rental Storage, Cox Business, Pinnacle Bank, Berkshire Health Care, Vertex, PFG, GRC Tires and Service, Vinton Computer, Cardinal IG, Twin Creeks Brewing Company, The Vinton Messenger, Member One, AEP, and Winter Storage.
More Vinton Christmas Parade photos are available on The Vinton Messenger Facebook page.