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By Paul Lonardo
On Saturday, December 1, Smithfield’s All-Lit-Up Christmas Parade took to the streets of the town, and by all accounts it was a rousing success. Numerous town agencies and private businesses alike worked together to make the event possible. It is the third annual All-Lit-Up Christmas Parade, and judging by the participation and the fun everyone seemed to have it won’t be the last. It has grown every year, and this one was the biggest yet. Last year they had 36 participants on various “floats,” and this year the number jumped to 58, according to Kate McAdam-Prickett, of the Smithfield Senior Center, who is also one of the Volunteer Committee co-chairs. The weather cooperated this year, and although it was a chilly 40-degrees, it was dry and clear with a waning crescent moon. There was hot cocoa and cookies available; at least until they ran out along the way.
The parade began at Smithfield High School, where the all the vehicles, the “floats,” fire trucks and all the individual participants lined up in preparation for the 1.8 mile trek over to the Town Green. It started at dusk and reached its destination at 2 Church Street in Greenville a little more than an hour later.
Also increasing this year were the numbers of people along the parade route who lined up outside their homes watching and marveling at the rolling caravan of Christmas displays and lights, everything from a live nativity scene in a manger on wheels to a Grinch on a flatbed trailer made to look like a ramshackle sleigh.
Of special note at this year’s parade, Smithfield High School science teacher, Elizabeth Russillo, who had been awarded Teacher of Year last spring, was the Grand Marshall. Also, Samantha Sanders, a student at William Winsor Elementary School, was crowned “The Illuminator” of the parade for winning the “What Christmas Means to Me” children’s essay contest. The contest, like the previous two years of the All-Lit-Up Christmas Parade, was open to 8-12 year olds, and the crowned Illuminator gets to ride in a special vehicle and is given the honor of flipping the switch to light the Christmas tree at The Green.
Additionally, this year’s parade was extra special, as Haley DeBerardis was named Honorary Grand Marshal. Haley was severely injured by a drunk driver in a tragic car accident in 2005, and the previous two years she watched the All-Lit-Up Christmas Parade with great enjoyment from her house on Austin Avenue, which is right on the parade route. This year, the procession paused as Santa and Mrs. Claus stopped to visit Haley, presenting her with a sash befitting her status as Honorary Grand Marshal. As the floats passed by her house, all the vehicles honked and flashed their lights, and everybody waved and cheered in her support. It was a touching moment for all because it meant so much to Haley, and it’s one of the reasons that makes the season so magical. That’s what it is all about; the sharing, the caring and giving.
As Samantha Sanders wrote in her contest-winning essay; “Christmas makes me happy because it’s a time of the year to spend time with friends, family and cousins.”
Next year, the organizers will plan on the event being bigger. And they will make sure there is enough hot cocoa and cookies.
“We’re sure to be maxed out next year,” says Kate McAdam-Prickett. “We were almost at maximum capacity this year. But we had a really great group of people, and everyone had a lot of fun.”
To look at photos of the All-Lit-Up parade and for video captured by the drone that followed the entire event, visit their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/Smithfields-All-Lit-Up-Christmas-parade-411115442556920/.