One of the most popular Christmas parades in the area will be held this weekend, on Dec. 14.
The Chumuckla Redneck Christmas Parade is the name it is known by. However, organizers say the event is actually Chumuckla Caring for Christmas because the parade was originally designed as a fundraiser.
“On the Wednesday after the parade, we hand out toys and food,” says Renee Melvin, president of the Chumuckla Athletic Association. “That is really what this is about.”
Organizers say, “There will be more than 250 floats this year parade down the 1.5 mile path. For many people it is an annual must. The forum and atmosphere surrounding the parade and festival are fun for all.”
The parade will start at the cotton gin on Chumuckla Springs / Gin Road & end across Chumuckla Hwy at Salter Road. Parade staging will be on Chumuckla Springs Road north of the Cotton Gin.
Melvin says she’s been receiving inquiries from people in other parts of the United States, making their plans to come to Santa Rosa County for the parade.
“I got a call from someone in Washington (state) yesterday,” she says.
The parade is known for its unusual floats, including toilets, Christmas trees decorated with beer cans, and other redneck-related items. The only problem Melvin says they’ve had is a couple of people who have taken it too far, including a man who brings an inflatable doll designed for certain private activities.
“We told him not to bring it anymore unless he dressed it in clothes,” she says. “So he dressed it for the checkpoint and pulled the clothes off it during the parade. If he does it again this year, we’re going to get him and he’ll be banned.”
What is supposed to be family fun also gets out of hand when people drink alcohol at the parade – both in the parade and on the sidelines.
“There is absolutely no alcohol,” Melvin states. “And don’t bring couches or furniture and leave them on the side of the road.” She says last year a sofa was left and caused a lot of problems for the organizers of the parade.
There is also no Mardi Gras-style flashing of breasts allowed.
Parade rules say drivers in the parade must have a legal driver’s license and there will be a checkpoint for alcohol. If alcohol is found on a float during the checkpoint or any other time during the parade, the float will be removed from the procession.
The parade begins at 1 p.m. and is expected to last two to three hours. There are other activities before, during and after the parade at the community center.
Melvin says the main point she wants people to remember is the parade is a fundraiser and toy-raiser.
“Please bring a new, unwrapped toy and some non-perishable food,” she urges. “It’s lot of fun, but we don’t want people to forget why we do this.”