JOPLIN, Mo. —
The 43rd annual Joplin Christmas parade got rave reviews on Tuesday night from 12-year-old Jazzmyne Eveland and her mom, Janet Cusick, of Oronogo.
The praise came from different perspectives, however.
A longtime parade viewer, Cusick said this year’s event “was the best in several years” because many of the floats were lighted and several did a good job of representing the parade theme.
Jazzmyne had made a project of seeing how much she could collect in candy and treats passed out by the many parade entries. After filling pockets, she had resorted to stuffing goodies into the front of her parka, giving her a bit of a Santa silhouette.
So in the candy department, the parade was “the best ever,” she pronounced.
The event had been scheduled for last week, but was canceled because of cold weather and snowy, slick streets. Temperatures on Tuesday were in the 30s, and streets and sidewalks were clear. Though most parents had their children bundled, there were a few adults there in shirt sleeves.
“I really don’t think we could have asked for a better parade, in terms of the weather and the crowd,” said Casey Starnes, president of the Joplin Jaycees, which is the longtime sponsor of the annual event.
“The weather made it so much better for the kids, and that’s who the parade is for,” he said.
“Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child” was the parade theme and hundreds of children, along with parents and grandparents, lined the parade route on Main Street between 20th and Second streets to see the nearly 100 floats and other entries.
Eight-month-old Jocelyn Merriman marked the third generation in her family to attend the Joplin Christmas parade. Duties in holding the small bundle were being shared by here mother, Rachel Merriman, and Barbara Gollhofer, her grandmother.
“I always brought her mother, and this is her first year,” Gollhofer said of her granddaughter.
This was the second Christmas parade for Shyanne Royse, 7, of Joplin, according to her mother, Shanna Jagers.
Santa was the big attraction, along with policemen on motorcycles, she said.
Two-year-old Liam Sanders seemed fascinated by most of the floats, though grandmother Evelin Haviland said his favorites were entries that depicted train locomotives.
Haviland said she appreciated the weather: “We were going to come last week; this is much better,” she said.
Nine-year-old Easton Guodace, who has been battling brain cancer four years, was named the parade’s grand marshal. He was unable to ride in Tuesday’s procession, so friends Rylee Huff, 10, and Jailee Huff, 4, took his place, Starnes said.
While most parade viewers lined the sidewalk, some watched the procession from inside businesses and other buildings along Main Streets and from apartment buildings in the downtown area. There also appeared to be a number of parade-watching parties along the route and in the central business district.
Best sound, Joplin Youth Cheerleaders; best theme, Footprints and Friends preschool; best lighting, Freedom of Flight museum; best animation, Joplin Parks and Recreation; and best construction, Franklin Tech Collision Repair.