Yes, indeed, last Tuesday night we had a miracle on Braves Boulevard.
Rome Police estimated that 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles came to the parade. With four or five people in each car, that translates to over 24,000 people — and then add in the 4,000 (and counting) that viewed the Facebook live feed from all over the country done by Lisa Smith and Doug Walker at Georgia’s Rome page. There is no doubt Rome and Floyd County needed a Christmas Parade this year when so many other things have been cancelled.
Severo’s column about it was right. As adults we tend to focus on what wasn’t there … not as many floats ... a 45 minute wait to get in ... not on Broad Street. In this Covid era, it is so easy to focus on what we don’t have.
But watching the faces of the children tucked in their pajamas, sometimes even hanging out the top of sunroofs, spending a family fun evening with their parents and even sometimes their grandparents while eating Christmas cookies and drinking hot chocolate out of a thermos — we didn’t see any of the negatives.
We only saw, and the children only felt, the excitement and wonder at the bright lights and the sounds of Christmas coming from State Mutual Stadium over Q102 FM and the fire truck and John Deere tractors (the big boys’ toys!) and every inflatable they could ever want to see. These faces hollered “Merry Christmas” time and time again at us.
The children saw a magical wonderland that told them Christmas IS coming soon and the big red suited man at the end of the parade assured them Santa would come again, even in this strange year of 2020. The children saw that, in the middle of so many cancellations, Christmas was NOT cancelled this year in Rome, Georgia.
It was a night of magic right here in our little hometown and we are forever grateful for it. Every car that showed up made our hearts happy. Rome needed a parade in 2020. We all need the joy of Christmas this year now more than ever.
Now we must say a few thanks. To Anna Winstead and the Rome Braves for sharing their stadium with us. To Captain Chris DeHart and the Rome city police who did an amazing job of getting everyone in and out safely. To Lisa Smith and Doug Walker for their support and commentary that allowed thousands to see the parade in the comfort of their own homes. To Randy Quick and Q102 for providing Christmas music that night — and all throughout the Christmas season. To Sign Gypsies for their welcoming messages. To Heritage First Bank for always sponsoring our Grand Marshal. To Lowe’s and Home Depot for donating lights and inflatables. To all the press who got the word out for us. To Christa Jackson and St. Mary’s Catholic School for sharing their stunning outdoor Nativity scene, which greeted everyone as they entered the parade route and reminded us the true reason for this season.
We would also like to thank our small Parade Committee of volunteers who each year come together and put on an event for 20,000 plus people. Faye Hicks, Dennis Newby, Al and Kathy Donahue, Carey and Judy Ingram, Randy Quick, Alisea Mascio, Kay Chumbler, Larry Atwell, Phil Burkhalter, Connie Cammon Bonds, Chanda Wade, Margaret Hollingsworth, Captain Chris DeHart, Scott Moody, Bill and Linda Pinson, Phyllis Rucker, Susan Jones and Gail Johnson.
Mostly this year a huge THANK YOU to our Heroes of 2020 – the healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters, teachers and the list can go on and on. To everyone who kept, and continues to keep, our families and our community safe during this pandemic.
We want to wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas to one and all.
Jerry Rucker, Janet Byington
Rome Christmas Parade Committee co-chairmen