Bahama knows how to parade

Dec. 19, 2012 @ 12:09 PM

Donna Mangum knows her holiday parades.

“I’ve been to all the parades in the area,” she said Saturday, while waiting in the morning chill on Bahama Road. “I know them all, and this is the best, by far. This is the bomb.”

Mangum wouldn’t get any argument from those lined up — in some cases, hours early — five and six deep, from Ball Road to Quail Roost Road, for the annual Bahama Christmas Parade.

“You got to get here early to get a good spot,” said long-time parade attendee Barry Spell. “It’s wall-to-wall, shoulder-to-shoulder, because everyone wants to be here.”

They came, of course, for the parade itself, for the Northern and Riverside high school marching bands, the Easley Elementary School rope skippers and for the endless array of vintage vehicles and the hillbilly caravan.

They were impressed by the gigantic shopping cart from the state Department of Agriculture and entertained by Wool. E. Bull (dressed up, this time, as Wool E. Claus) and the other assorted giant cows, Vikings and bears that marched along the route.

They waved at parade grand marshal Worth Hill, the former sheriff, gazed at the array of gleaming Harley-Davidson motorcycles and shouted “Merry Christmas!” to Santa and Mrs. Claus.

But most of all, they came for the friendship and camaraderie.

“Just seeing old friends, that’s the best part of it,” said Randy Roberts, who figured he’s been coming to the parade for “at least 20 years.”

“It’s a tradition. It’s a family thing. It’s just a big neighborhood party.”

It’s local, Mangum added.

“Everybody knows everybody here,” she said. “It’s gotten so huge over the years, but it’s still stayed a real local event.”

All along the route, there were hugs and “Hey, how are yous?” There were folks gathering in Drye’s Gun Shop for mimosas — orange juice and champagne — and across the road getting hot chocolate from Bahama Baptist Church.

While the adults exchanged their greetings, caught up on news and watched the Model T Fords, Nash Ramblers and big-finned Chevy Impalas roll by, the kids at the parade concentrated on what was most important to them.

“I’m here for the candy,” 7-year-old Cole Lanford admitted. “That’s what I like best about the parade.”