GRAVETTE — Although the ongoing covid pandemic prompted the cancellation of many area parades and other holiday events, Gravette residents carried on their annual Christmas tradition with a “Merry and Bright” themed parade.
Parade participants followed the same route as the Gravette Day parade and wound their way through several residential neighborhoods so many residents were able to enjoy the gaily decorated floats.
Gravette police and fire vehicles led off the parade with lights flashing and sirens sounding. Fellow firefighters from the Sulphur Springs and Maysville fire departments came to join in the festivities and all the Christmasy red fire trucks fit right into the holiday color scheme. The Northwest Health ambulance also joined the other emergency vehicles.
The number of parade entries was down this year, but those who did participate were decked out with bright lights and glittery tinsel to carry out the theme. The popular high school marching band was unable to participate since walking entries were not permitted, but some of the fire trucks and other entries provided musical entertainment with recorded holiday carols. Members of the Lions Club played and sang seasonal tunes as they traveled along.
There were only a few business entries this year. The Grand Savings Bank “Radio Flyer” float, featuring an elf riding his ATV past a brightly lit Christmas tree surrounded by gifts, won the trophy for most festive entry. A Standard Materials Group concrete truck, with a wreath on the front grille and its cab, hood and mixer outlined with lights, provided a cheery note. Two riders greeted the crowd in a snazzy little red race car emblazoned with stickers.
Area beauty queens of all ages entered the parade. Miss Gravette Kinsley Hurtt and Miss Teen Gravette Hayle Vestal rode together and Gravette royalty Teen Miss Harvest Keeli Moore, Pre-Teen Miss Harvest Grace Finley and Miss Harvest Kaitlyn Loyd rode in a bright orange convertible, throwing out peppermints and wishing “Merry Christmas” to spectators as they traveled along. Clara Kate Edwards, Little Miss Boston Mountains and Miss Benton County Tiny Tot, participated, and winners from the Benton County Fair Pageant rode on another float.
Lions Club members, focusing on their community projects, strung a row of stockings on their festive float with the message “Lions Serve.” The float, with tinsel garlands, a tree and lion mascot, won the trophy for best use of theme. The Tad Beccard family rode in a brightly lit station wagon fashioned after the vehicle in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” transporting their decorated tree home. The senior high cheerleaders donned antlers, Santa hats and necklaces of Christmas lights and waved to the crowd.
Jason Curtis, driving a brightly decorated troop transport vehicle flying several colorful flags, traveled near the end of the parade. He won the trophy for best use of lights. Santa and Mrs. Claus brought up the rear. Riding atop Gravette Fire Department’s big ladder truck, they waved to all as they passed by and concluded the evening with a resounding, “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!”