A hometown tradition

Christmas. Noel. Navidad. Whatever you call the Christmas season and no matter how you and your family celebrate the season, Christmas is a significant celebration of religious and tradition importance.

More than just one, single special day for many, it is a season of gathering, sharing, remembering and celebrating.  It is a season to enjoy the music of the holiday, like “White Christmas” and “Silent Night,” or The Nutcracker Ballet and Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.” There is the tradition of sharing Christmas cards, first done in 1843, as well as gathering around the Christmas tree. There is the story of Rudolph, plus jolly ole Santa Claus, and oh, the holiday lights!

There is also a community-wide tradition that has grown in Ellsworth. Shepherded by Thelma Beal, the Ellsworth Downtown Christmas Parade is an all-inclusive, small-town celebration of hundreds (if not thousands) of friends, neighbors and families gathering for Santa’s arrival — as well as to meet and greet one another. Anyone can join along and all are encouraged to participate as the community parade reflects spirit, pride and more than a little emotion for many.

This year’s parade, which took place Saturday morning, was particularly outstanding. Gleaming fire trucks, proud horses, school bands, bank and business contingents, veterans and church groups followed parade marshals Richard and Helen Dudman down Main Street and up State Street as hundreds cheered from the sidelines.

The Ellsworth Christmas Parade is also a physically interactive event. You get to feel winter’s icy chill along the route, hear the sirens and children’s screams of delight, plus savor the socialization of people lining the city’s downtown streets. No screens or devices needed here, just a willingness to take part and share time with like-minded strangers and new friends.

The first Christmas parade is credited to Peoria, Ill., in 1888. Long known as the quintessential “average American city,” from which we gained the phrase, “if it plays in Peoria, it plays anywhere,” Peoria’s Christmas tradition has spread across the country. Time tells us that there is nothing average about either Christmas or a Christmas parade.

The spirit of the Christmas parade will always be local. Running for 36 years in Ellsworth, it is now an important tradition, an event on the calendar for sharing and being a part of. Regardless of the commercial trappings of the season, or one’s individual religious sentiments, the Christmas parade is a positive message celebrated by all. The idea of gathering, sharing and joining together for celebrating life, the holiday and each other in a small town, any town, is noble and persuasive.

Hometown parade, hometown pride, hometown tradition. Catch it.

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