‘It’s about community’: Cumberland Christmas parade returns

Published 12:35 am Friday, December 8, 2023

It’s all about community. For more than 20 years, a group of Cumberland County residents have gathered together and helped assemble the Christmas parade. This year’s edition follows a similar recipe to the past. There will be floats, plenty of music from the Cumberland High Marching Band and kids are guaranteed a glimpse of Santa at the end. 

Leading that trip will be some familiar folks, as four children from the Robert L. and Betty G. Scales family will serve as this year’s grand marshals. 

“Mr. Scales and Mrs. Scales were well known as educators in Cumberland County and the surrounding areas,” said parade organizer Barbara Gamage. 

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The first grand marshal, Michael D. Scales, lives in Cumberland and retired as a Spanish teacher from the Richmond Public Schools in 2021. Even now, he continues his educational involvement by working as a substitute teacher in the Cumberland schools, where he tutors as needed. 

Michael holds a bachelor’s degree from Bridgewater College and a Masters degree from Virginia Tech. He has one daughter and a grandson. He is also a deacon at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Patricia Scales, the second grand marshal, also lives in Cumberland County. Most folks here in Cumberland know her from her law practice, as she was the county’s Commonwealth’s Attorney from 1995 until retiring in 2022. She attended James Madison University where she received her bachelor’s, later obtaining her law degree (Juris Doctorate) at the College of William and Mary. 

“She remains very active in the county,” Gamage said. 

Jeffrey Scales, the third child, resides in Cumberland where he lives with his wife, Olinga Woodson Scales. Jeffrey began his career in education, after serving in the military, as a teacher in Cumberland County, eventually becoming principal at Cumberland High. He is presently a principal with the Department of Corrections. 

Finally, Rita Scales Mayberry has owned and operated a retail establishment in Emporia for a number of years. She attended James Madison University where she majored in marketing and business, and she also taught for several years in the Cumberland schools. She’s a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She is married and the mother of two daughters and one son. “The Scales family remains a very important part of Cumberland County,” Gamage said. 

Cumberland Christmas Parade

A look at the grand marshals for this year’s Cumberland parade, including, from left, Michael, Patricia and Jeff Scales, along with Rita Scales Mayberry.

Where and when will it be? 

So now comes the big question. Where and when will the parade take place? This year’s parade will start on Sunday, Dec. 10, beginning at 2 p.m. In terms of where it’ll be, this year’s parade starts at NAPA at 1587 Anderson Highway and takes its normal route, heading down U.S. 60 towards C&F Bank. 

And yes, if you’ve looked at the forecast with some concern, you’re not alone. Parade organizers have done the same thing, as currently the National Weather Service offers a 70% chance of rain Sunday afternoon. 

“If the forecast is for heavy rain on Sunday, we will postpone until the following Sunday,” Gamage said, adding that a decision would be made on Friday. 

Organizer Kevin Ingle is the one in charge of making that decision. He wants to wait a bit, to see if those clouds hold off or come in sooner. 

“My plan is to, on Friday at noon, postpone the parade to the following Sunday if the chance of rain is above 40%,” Ingle said. “If it is at 40 or below in rain probability, then I will make the call Sunday morning if we still feel it needs to be postponed.” 

Who’s in the lineup? 

There are already over 60 entries for various floats, vehicles and other participants for the parade, slightly higher than in years past. The Cumberland County Christmas Parade is known for having a good number of antique cars and trucks that participate and that won’t change this time around. 

Here’s a look at this year’s lineup. You may notice a couple of empty spaces. Gamage expects to have those filled by Sunday: 

1. Sheriff

2. Christmas Parade Banner — Cumberland High Students

3. Grand Marshall — Catherine Harrison driving

4. Grand Marshall — Carter Harrison driving

5. Cumberland County Public School Foundation

6. Cumberland Commonwealth’s Attorney


8. True Fixin’s

9. Commissioner of the Revenue — Julie Phillips

10. Unity Community Church

11. Zirkle Day Care

12. Virginia State Parks


14. Billy Pepper — 55 Chevy

15. Billy Pepper — 68 Ford Mustang

16. Billy Pepper — 36 Chevy Sedan

17. Billy Pepper — 39 Plymouth Coupe

18. Billy Pepper — 36 Pontiac Sedan

19. Billy Pepper — 36 Chevy Pick-up

20. Billy Pepper — 37 Chevy Pick-up

21. Billy Pepper — 32 Ford Pick-up

22. Cumberland Cheer Program

23. Cumberland County Circuit Court Clerk


25. Little Duke Steppers

26. Junior Miss Five County Fair — Savannah Grace Redford

27. Delta Response Team

28. Arright Lawn Care

29. Cartersville Volunteer Fire Department

30. 2nd and 4th District New Supervisors Cumberland County

31. Cumberland High School FFA


33. Cumberland High and Junior Varsity Football Team

34. Marion Brothers Trucking

35. Marion Brothers Logging

36. Loyal Ladiez and Gentz

37. Girl Scouts Troop 1253

38. Southside Shriners Club

39. Backyard Outlaws — 1989 Dodge Ram

40. Backyard Outlaws — Golf Cart

41. Backyard Outlaws — 1974 Vega Wagon

42. Backyard Outlaws — 2010 Chevy Camero

43. Backyard Outlaws — 1972 Chevy Nova

44. Backyard Outlaws — 2010 Harley Davidson Motorcycle

45. Hedrick’s Mobile Service and Repair Float

46. Hedrick’s Mobile Service and Repair

47. Randolph Volunteer Fire Department

48. Twin Pines Tree Service

49. Karies Baked Goods

50. Miss Five County Fair — Johnna Stevens

51. Anthony Green Logging in memory of Jatera Ingram

52. Riverside General Contracting — Brandon Tyson

53. Ronnie Blanton — vehicle

54. Cumberland Rescue Squad

55. Cumberland Volunteer Fire Department

56. Cumberland Volunteer Fire Department

57. Cumberland Volunteer Fire Department

58. Cumberland Volunteer Fire Department

59. Cumberland Volunteer Fire Department

60. Cumberland Volunteer Fire Department

61. Cumberland Marching Band

62. Santa — Lee Harrison driving