By Charlotte Smith
The 45th Annual Bladenboro Christmas Parade pulled in thousands to the small town this Saturday morning. The chance of rain forecasted had officals starting the parade early, but the weather was ideal and the multitudes were present with good cheer.
Many folks gathered to celebrate the holidays and many were celebrating their recovery from damages left by Hurricane Florence. Some area businesses had to close in September this year due to the storm, but this morning some business owners were seen in the parade and others were caught watching with big smiles because they are back open for business.
Brandy Wilkins, owner of Lime Light Photography, said she has been very busy since she re-opened from the storm damage. Wilkins also mentioned other businesses back open for business. She listed Diamond Dave’s Restaurant, Lollies on Main Boutique, Leon’s Car Wash, Over Yonder Coffee, Teas, & Creamery, China Town Restaurant , Southern Sass Salon, and Down East Pest Control. Wilkins added Diamond Dave’s may expand their business and there also may be a possible new business opening soon in the downtown area.
Don White, President of Boost the Boro confirmed the Medicine Shop, Bladenboro Farmer’s Market and other businesses around Benson’s Grill are all back open for business. He added the local non-profit, Boost the Boro has been meeting and planning ways to help the small business owners get back to normal.
White estimated the crowd lining the streets on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Main Street to be around 3,500 people.
The parade started with the emergency responders who are used to being the first on the scene. The Parade Grand Marshal was Bladen County Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson. An advocate for small business owners and residents who received a lot of damages since Hurricane Florence hit Bladen County; Peterson has helped in recovery efforts in countless ways according to many in attendance.
There was live music on floats, planes providing an airshow over head while beauty queens, clowns, churches, businesses, elected officals, schools and others making merry in the streets.
Before the parade ended the Grinch was seen playing the role of holiday cheer maester on top of the Smithfield Hog Production parade unit. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus helped close the parade out tossing out the last dash of candy.
View the parade here: