Farmville Christmas parade lights up the night

Published 1:15 am Monday, December 4, 2023

FARMVILLE – The show started after the sun went down. For the first time in several decades, the Farmville Christmas parade marched at night, with Christmas lights and headlights illuminating the different groups involved. 

“The lights are pretty,” said 8-year-old Amy Deems. She was sitting in front of the Doyne apartments with her grandparents. “Usually Papa drives us all around to see the lights, but now they’re coming to us.” 

Her grandfather Dennis laughed. “This stuff makes a kid out of all of us,” he said, watching Amy point as another lighted float came by. 

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Now the Farmville Christmas parade itself isn’t new. In fact, you could argue it’s part of the official beginning of the Christmas season here in town. For more than 70 years, the Farmville Jaycees have sponsored the tradition. This year, however, the group decided to do things a bit different. Instead of early in the afternoon, they held it much later in the day, so several of the 96 groups could decorate their floats, tractors, trucks and cars with Christmas lights. And it didn’t stop with the vehicles. Frosty the Snowman was covered in lights as he ran up to kids all along the sidewalks. Even some of the folks walking alongside the floats had lights wrapped from head to toe. 

“I like it,” said Scott Denny. He and his family had secured spots down by Uptown Cafe, getting there about an hour before the parade. “One of the big things at Christmas time is Christmas lights, so it only makes sense to show them off during the parade. To do that, you’ve got to do this at night. It can make it harder on us with older eyes, but that’s why I brought my phone, to zoom in…and take pictures with the grandkids.”  

Farmville Christmas Parade gets rolling

Jacquelyn Reid and Ava Frederick served as this year’s parade grand marshals. You may remember Frederick as this year’s Little Miss Farmville Jaycees. Meanwhile, Jacquelyn Reid is this year’s Prince Edward County Christmas Mother. Reid is the owner and president of Bland Reid Funeral Home on Griffin Boulevard in Farmville, a place the family-owned business has served since 1934.

They were joined on the parade route by several other easily recognized teams and individuals. One of those was the Fuqua School volleyball team, who in November won the state title for the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association. In a season where the group went 21-5 and 12-2 in conference, they went on a strong run over the last month, winning six straight to clinch the title. And you could tell several members of the crowd recognized the team as they passed by on the route, with cheers and applause coming up. 

But the biggest focus before the parade, and the person many were searching for this time wasn’t just Santa Claus. Yes, we can promise you dozens of children did just that, continuing to ask grandparents and parents when Santa and Mrs. Claus would be there. But for the adults, Oliver Anthony was the one they waited for. 

Anthony had a float of his own, featuring his trailer and truck. But the Prince Edward resident and “Rich Men North of Richmond” singer wasn’t on it. Instead, residents waited until the very end to catch a glimpse of the musician, who was on the sleigh with his family, helping guide Santa and Mrs. Claus into downtown Farmville. 

Some adults cheered for Anthony but they were drowned out as soon as a certain ‘jolly old elf’ was spotted by the children. Some children yelled ‘Santa!’ while others just waved or pointed.

Anything you would change?

Afterwards, some of The Herald staff asked residents, both little and big, if they liked the nighttime change. The response from everyone could be summed up by 10-year-old Jake Carlin.

“It’s been my favorite part of the weekend,” Carlin said. “It’s Christmas lights, Christmas songs and Santa.”

What did you think of this year’s parade? Send a letter to editor@farmvilleherald.com and let us know. We’ll publish the responses in print and online. And the Christmas events aren’t finished after tonight. Click here to see what else is coming up in the next days and weeks.