Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
The biggest night-time Christmas parade is back for its 65th, and possibly final year.
The Orange Jaycees have announced the 65th Annual Christmas Parade will take place beginning at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, through the streets of Orange. This year’s theme is “A Patriotic Christmas” and the public is invited to line the streets and see this wonderful holiday tradition firsthand.
The parade entrants will lineup in the parking lot of the old Sears location on MacArthur Drive and travel east to Green Avenue into downtown Orange, where the parade route will conclude at Fourth Street.
In 2012, dozens of participants helped to make the parade a huge success. Floats, vehicles and trailers were decorated in colorful lights and holiday music echoed through the streets.
However, a trend of less support, manpower and membership has pushed the Orange Jaycees to the brink of disbanding and the potential cessation of the annual parade.
“This will be the last parade, at least in this format,” said Niki Monceaux of the Orange Jaycees and parade organizer. “It kills me to know there may not be another parade, unless another group picks it up, but there will not be an Orange Jaycees to sponsor it.”
The parade is one of the most popular Christmas events in Orange County, as thousands of people line the street to see the colorfully lighted and decorated floats, listen to the marching bands and wave to Santa Claus.
Monceaux said the problem is not finding people or organizations to enter the parade, it is a lack of membership and manpower which has led to this hard choice.
“We are already below the minimum requirement for our charter, which is 20 people,” Monceaux added. “Even though we have that many members, there is no manpower or financial support to do everything it takes to make this parade happen. The insurance alone is $600, and we have to have that in order to have the parade. I can’t pay it out of my own pocket.”
Following the 2012 parade, Monceaux sent out a call for assistance through social media, e-mail and print media. The response was less than overwhelming.
“I received two e-mails from people willing to help last December, but I couldn’t even get in touch with one after that,” she said.
The Orange Jaycees will soon be accepting entries into the parade. Forms will be available at R & R Auto Supply on MacArthur Drive Pinehurst, Artcraft Printing on Western Avenue in West Orange, Triangle Bolt on East Roundbunch Road in Bridge City and at the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce at the corner of 10th Street and Green Avenue.
Entrants will need to supply the size of the entry and category, as well as contact name and information of a person representing the group, organization or business represented. Also, it is asked to include whether music is involved with your entry or not as to make sure the float will not be placed to a band or fire engine.
Trophies will be presented for first and second place winners in the following categories: marching, general, commercial and religious. Bands will receive participation trophies. Three “Judges Choice” trophies will be awarded, as will a special trophy to the best overall entry by the Grand Marshal.
“It devastates me to know this really could be the last parade, or at least the last parade sponsored by the Jaycees,” Monceaux explained. “We have been doing it for nearly 65 years. I’m going to give it my best shot because I want to make this the best one ever. I want to go out with a bang.”
Contact Niki Monceaux, parade chairperson, at 409-221-0801 or NikiM2525@yahoo.com for more information.