By Ralphine Major
It was a beautiful day for a parade! On Sunday, December 6, the Gibbs Christmas Parade was nearly 120 entries strong, a far cry from the first parade six years ago.
My vantage point was different this year. Instead of watching from the sidelines, I was in it. Dressed as Piddle Diddle, the Widdle Penguin, the character of our first children’s book, I rode in the little wagon Grady and Polly Lett built by hand. The wagon was pulled by one of Lett’s many John Deere tractors, a 1948 orchard tractor driven by Julie Goldman. Piddle Diddle had lots of friends in the wagon including Lett’s granddaughter Abbey and her friend Brianna. Abbey’s mother, Holly, who helped decorate the float rode along, too. Also on board were Gibbs Ruritan Club members Carolyn Merritt and Betty Jones. Brianna and her grandfather, Bob Blankenship, won first prize with one of Lett’s tractors in the Washburn Parade the day before!
Sitting in the lineup, I could see endless rows of vehicles, RVs, tractor trailors, beautifully decorated floats representing churches and civic groups, Gibbs Hiigh School Marching Band and cheerleaders, ROTC Color Guard, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and lots of beautiful horses. Among the Knox County officials I spotted were 8th District Commissioner Dave Wright and 7th District Commissioner Charles Busler as well as State Representative Harry Brooks. I never saw Parade Coordinator Larry Dougherty, but I did see his son, Daniel, who drove the Stowers truck full of Cub Scouts. It was a reminder that a younger generation is supporting this wonderful community event. Charlie Wright drove the John Deere pulling Santa’s float. Dee Harless has a special line to Santa Claus; to make an appointment call 689-8562.
As the parade started, I was reminded of how far the community has come thanks to the efforts of the Gibbs Ruritan Club members, President Lynn Hill, and Vice President Eddie Jones. Larry Dougherty and the Ruritan Club extend a special thanks to Gibbs High School, Clear Springs Baptist Church, and Midway IGA for allowing access for parade entry and exit and to Joe Sallings who cleaned up after the horses and his church, Horse Valley Cowboy Church, who entered a float as well. Special thanks also go to sponsors Tazewell Pike Animal Clinic, Midway IGA, Home Federal Bank, Gibbs Elementary School, Henry’s Bakery and Deli, Peppers Grill & Pizzeria, Exxon E-Z Stop, Twisters, Walgreens, Gibbs Ruritan Club, and Clear Springs Baptist Church.
A video is available for $5 and can be purchased by calling Larry at 865-898-3532 or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Next year’s parade will be on Sunday, December 4, 2016, at 2:30 p,m. Mark your calendars!