In the frantic last hour before the start of Saturday’s Bowling Green-Warren County Jaycees Christmas Parade, Mary-John Carmon is in the intersection of College Street and Sixth Avenue, giving directions to people trying to find their float while keeping in touch over walkie-talkie with one of the roughly 15 Jaycees volunteering to work the event.
This year’s parade was the largest in Carmon’s 27 years as chairwoman, with 116 entries, and attendees were treated to a festive atmosphere under sunny skies, with temperatures approaching a balmy 50 degrees by the time the parade ended.
Carmon brings the energy to match the crowd’s anticipation. She estimates she walks about six miles on the day of the parade as she goes about her responsibilities.
“The first year I did it, I loved it. ... We’ve seen so much improvement, it’s hard to let go of it,” Carmon said of directing the annual parade. “We’ve seen progress every year in participation. At first, there were more cars than floats (in the parade), but now the majority are floats, which is what we wanted.”
Festooned with enough tinsel, red Santa hats and other Yuletide signifiers to give downtown the appearance of a holiday dreamland, the dozens of floats that made their way along College and State streets put the city in the mood to celebrate.
Bowling Green construction firm Stewart Richey’s elaborate float resembled a toy chest on an epic scale, with riders dressed in costume among giant blocks, crayons and a video monitor built to look like an Etch-a-Sketch.
A sound system on the float blared a medley of holiday songs given a danceable spin.
Lisa Grimes of Stewart Richey said work on the float began in October.
“I think everyone who worked on it was so creative,” Grimes said. “We do it for the kids. ... I like seeing the little kids’ faces.”
The parade featured enough to appeal to the kid in everyone.
Sylvia Bush of Bowling Green picked out a place on State Street to watch the parade with her granddaughter and great-granddaughter.
As the Bowling Green High School marching band passed by playing a rendition of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” Bush reflected on what she enjoyed about the event.
“It’s a good way to get into the Christmas spirit,” Bush said. “I like watching the marching bands. ... If it was snowing, it would go with the theme of the day, but I’m glad it’s not.”