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Christmas cheer: Connell Construction takes first place in Clanton parade

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Cheerful scenes and holiday cheer were the main attraction at the Clanton Christmas Parade on Dec. 6.

This annual event is coordinated by the Rotary Club of Chilton County and features a number of festive floats from local businesses and organizations as well as school bands.

A panel of judges awards a first, second and third place to the most festive floats each year.

This year’s top winner was a float built by Connell Construction for the Sweet Potato Queens of Columbiana.

Nelson Connell of Connell Construction said they constructed Santa’s workshop out of blocks.

“We started about mid-September building parts of it,” Connell said.

This was the first time for the group to have a float in the parade.

“It’s too much work not to show it off,” Connell said.

The float will be a part of a few regional parades.

Second place was awarded to Hatley Health Care and Rehabilitation.

Janet Driskell of Hatley Healthcare said the idea to have a replica of the facility and the Clanton Peach Tower in a giant snow globe on the float was suggested by social services director Amy Daniel and assistant Lacey Morrow, who also built the pieces for inside the globe. The globe was created from piping and vinyl.

“This is a representation of our Clanton Christmas,” Driskell said.

Construction took about two and a half weeks. Driskell said the group enjoyed the community coming together and having a chance to “get our name out there for our local nursing home.”

“Our residents are a big part of this and they love to watch when we do this every year,” Driskell said.

Third place was awarded to Willow 31, whose float featured Mattison Holsomback singing Christmas songs.

“Our favorite colors are something typically bright,” Kelsie Barrett of Willow 31 said. “So we went with rose gold, gold and silver to be eye catching as we went down the street and we added LED light this year.”

She said she enjoys seeing people’s reactions to the float each year.

Several churches also had floats in the parade.

Christ Newton, associate pastor of Lomax Assembly, said the Toy Story-themed float featured members of the church’s Kid Zone ministry. Newton said he enjoyed seeing everyone who participated and the different floats that were featured.

“We just wanted to find a way to have some outreach to our community and show our community that we love them,” Newton said. “It is just another way … to minister the love of Jesus Christ and celebrate this season, which is God’s perfect gift in Christ.”

This gift was also being celebrated by children on the West End Baptist Church float. The celebration included a giant four-tier replica of a cake to wish Jesus a happy birthday.

“We wanted people to know that it wasn’t just about the presents, it is about Jesus,” Michelle Jeremiah with West End Baptist said.

Puppets and puppet ministry team members were also part of the fun.

The Signature Studio of Dance float featured dance students performing to a Christmas song from one of the Frozen movies.

“Every little girl loves the movie Frozen and so we try to stay with a positive theme and keep it age appropriate,” Stephanie Genard of Signature Studio of Dance said. “We thought Frozen would be perfect.”

The song and dance will also be featured at the studio’s Christmas Showcase on Dec. 13 at Jefferson State Community College.

“All of the ticket sales benefit Chilton County DHR and last year, we were able to give them right at $7,000,” Genard said.

The dance studio participates in the parade on an annual basis and begins work on the float right before Thanksgiving. Genard said parents of the dance students are very supportive and helpful in getting it together.

“I have a great group that helps me do this,” Genard said. She commented that it was good to have something that the families could work on together to celebrate Christmas.

Girl Scout Troop 337 celebrated their signature cookies with a Cookie Express float, complete with a life-size gingerbread house.

“We did cookies because Girl Scout cookie orders are in two weeks,” April Coker, a parent who helped organize the float project, said.

Coker said she enjoys the lights during the parade and seeing all of the different ideas presented.

Cookie sales start Dec. 13. Troop 337 typically sells about 2,000 boxes of cookies each year.

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More photos of the Clanton Christmas parade are available at: https://www.shelbycountyphotos.com/Events-and-Happenings/2019-12-06-Clanton-Christmas-Parade/