Greenville parade to kick off holiday

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Grand Marshal can’t wait to lead throng

The City of Greenville and the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce will officially kick off the Christmas season on Dec. 4 with its annual Christmas parade.

Floats, marching bands and even jolly ol’ Saint Nick himself, will make their way from Bolling Street down Commerce Street to the Butler County Courthouse.

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The theme for this year’s parade is “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

“We’d really love for everyone to come out and enjoy the festivities,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Francine Wasden said. “It’s such a wonderful community event and it’s a night filled with fun, lights, family entertainment, and so much more.”

The festivities start with Santa in the Park at 5:30 p.m. at Confederate Park, followed by the official tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. in the park.  The parade is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Leading the parade this year as Grand Marshal will be 96-year-old Eric Cates Jr.

Being asked to be the marshal for the parade was something Cates said he “never expected.”

“It just came right out of the blue,” Cates said about being asked by Wasden. “It’s a great honor for me to do it.”

Cates said he talked to his children about being marshal and all agreed that he should.

“It’s a big honor,” he said. “I got one of my grandsons picking me up some candy and I’m looking forward to throwing candy out to the side.”

Additionally, Cates will be flipping the “on” switch to light the city’s Christmas tree.

Cates grew up and still lives in the Searcy Community, about seven miles north of Greenville. He went into the military, serving in the Army and National Guard. He served in the Army in World War II and was still in active duty during the Korean War from 1951-52.

Upon returning from Korea, Cates stayed in the guard until 1975, when he retired as a Colonel. He has four children, 11 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.

The Chamber of Commerce is also holding its third annual Christmas light contest.

Categories for the contest include: best overall residential, best overall business, Santa’s favorite, most colorful, most creative and most elegant.

Those wishing to enter should contact the Chamber of Commerce by Dec. 10. Judging will be held the night of Dec. 10.

To register for the Christmas light contest, call the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce at (334) 382-3251.