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The ‘Joys of Christmas' Parade: Community spirit and festive cheer illuminate West Plains


As the sun shone brightly over the quaint streets of downtown West Plains, the community gathered in anticipation and excitement for the annual Christmas Parade, a hallmark event organized by the West Plains Chamber of Commerce. The event, held on Saturday afternoon unfolded as a testament to the enduring spirit and unity of the town.

The theme of this year's parade, "The Joys of Christmas," was not just a title but an embodiment of the warmth, joy, and community spirit that defines the holiday season. The parade commenced at 4 p.m., with the air filled with festive tunes and cheer, setting the scene for an unforgettable experience.

At the forefront of the musical celebration was the West Plains High School band, under the direction of the esteemed Rocky Long, a figure synonymous with musical excellence in the community. The band's Christmas music selections reverberated through the streets, instilling a sense of merriment and nostalgia.

The parade's vibrancy was further amplified by the participation of various bands, each sponsored by local businesses and organizations committed to fostering community spirit. Southern Bank, 37 North Realty Group, and Ramona Heiney-State Farm Insurance were among the proud sponsors, showcasing their dedication to the town's cultural fabric.

The parade featured a wide array of entries, each judged on originality, workmanship, and relevance to the festive theme. The spirit of competition was alive, but it was the spirit of community that truly shone through. The judges, faced with a difficult task, awarded prizes to entries that best captured the essence of the season.

The Southern Missouri Community Health Center was honored with the $350 Arlee Home Fashions Overall Grand Prize, a testament to their dedication and creativity. In the commercial category, Hart Family Eyecare and Brooke Haven Healthcare were recognized for their outstanding contributions. Similarly, Faith Chapel FWB Church and First Christian Church were awarded for their inspiring religious-themed entries. The Ozark Christian Academy and West Plains Special Olympics were jointly recognized in the miscellaneous category, highlighting the diverse nature of the parade.

Jessica Collins, the Chamber's Executive Director, extended heartfelt thanks to the longstanding volunteers, including Steve Gleghorn, Ramona Heiney, and Bryan Adcock, whose unwavering commitment has been the backbone of this event. The parade judges, sponsors, and contributors were also acknowledged for their generosity and support.

The community's collaborative effort was evident in every aspect of the parade. Collins specifically thanked Outpost Motorsports and Mega Motorsports for their provision of vehicles, Missouri State University-West Plains for the use of their campus, and the numerous organizations and individuals who entered floats.

A special note of gratitude was extended to the West Plains Police and Fire Departments, area Emergency Services, the Missouri Highway Patrol, Howell County Sheriff’s Department, 1149th MO National Guard, and the West Plains City Workers, particularly the City Street Department Crew, for their dedication to safety and order.

The parade was also a showcase of community involvement, with contributions from Genesis Church, MSU-West Plains sports teams and coaches, city employees, and Howell-Oregon Electric Coop. employees. Collins emphasized the invaluable role of the core volunteers who have been instrumental in organizing the event year after year.

In her closing remarks, Collins expressed profound gratitude to the community for their continued support and participation in this cherished annual event. She extended warm wishes for a Merry Christmas, echoing the sentiments of joy and togetherness that the parade so beautifully encapsulated.

The 2023 West Plains Christmas Parade was not just an event; it was a celebration of community, a reflection of shared values, and a vivid illustration of "The Joys of Christmas." The memories created on this beautiful day will linger in the hearts of the West Plains community, reminding them of the strength and warmth found in coming together.