By Debbie Adams
Vinton held its annual Christmas Parade on December 5– a tradition that began back in 1975.
What a parade it was in 2019 with about 75 units including floats and bands that brought out the crowds in seasonal, but not bitterly cold, weather.
The parade is sponsored by the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce with assistance from the Town of Vinton.
Festivities got underway before the actual parade with a tree-lighting ceremony at the Municipal Building headed up by Vinton Mayor Brad Grose. The Floyd Ward School of Dance entertained on the stage, followed by students from the William Byrd Middle and High School Choirs, under the direction of Matt Bartley. The choirs invited the crowd to sing along to the familiar carols.
The parade then kicked-off from the Vinton War Memorial, proceded down Washington Avenue, meandered through downtown Vinton to Pollard Street with the judges’ reviewing stand, and then up Gus Nicks Boulevard.
Judges for the parade again this year were Bootie Chewning and Dr. Richard Turner and his wife Tina. Chewning, who has been battling health issues for a couple of years, put forth a valiant effort to attend the yearly event and even appeared as Mrs. Santa at the After-Parade Party at the Vinton Farmers’ Market.
The parade was led by the Vinton Police, a police honor guard, the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Department, and the Marching Terriers Band. As is tradition, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus rode atop a firetruck as the parade grand finale.
In between were some beautiful floats, which indicated a great deal of thought, time, and effort by those participating. Quite a few of the area’s churches built floats for the parade this year representing the true meaning of the season.
There were cheerleaders and sports teams, including the 2019 State Championship Softball Team from William Byrd High School. Megan Grant, the 2019 Dogwood Festival Queen, who was also a member of the championship softball team, returned home from college to ride in the parade.
Several animal organizations participated in the parade, some with floats, others with adoptable pets parading. There were dancers and twirlers.
The Town of Vinton paraded a new dumptruck festooned with lights. There were inflatables, especially snowmen, and lots of bubbles this year.
The Kazim Shriners had their usual contingent of clowns and vehicles causing mayhem, along with some Mystic Pirates aboard ship.
At the end of the parade, the Santa family welcomed guests for photographs and gift requests around a fire at the After-Parade Party with music by DJ Flex from K-92 and entertainment by the Floyd Ward dancers.
Parade winners were announced:
- The Mayor’s Award (Best in Parade given by the Town of Vinton) went to the Kazim Pirates.
- In the Religious category: First place went to Mineral Springs Christian with two floats entered; second place to the Blue Ridge Christian Riders; and third place to Shenandoah Baptist/Colonial Baptist
- In the Non-Religious category: First place went to MSC Glade Creek/Hickory Woods; second place to the always dazzling Virginia Veterans Care Center; and third place to the Roanoke Valley SPCA
- The Best Children’s Float winner was Gospel Light Baptist
- The Best Children’s Float-Other was the Floyd Ward School of Dance
The Best Children’s Float and Best Children’s-Other are sponsored by Eric Thomas of Mountain View Real Estate each year.
The Vinton Breakfast Lions Club held the traditional spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the VFW before the parade got underway.
Many more photographs of the Vinton Christmas Parade can be found on The Vinton Messenger Facebook page.