On Nov. 24, the festivities will begin as unconventional means of transport, such as riding lawn mowers, tractors and wagons, take center stage in the Euharlee Festival of Trees Parade. The procession will highlight the participants’ creative nature as they wind through the parade route on horses or decorated vehicles, such as bicycles, motorcycles, golf carts, floats and trailers.
“This is the 10th anniversary. It started out 10 years ago as a riding lawn mower parade when the Festival of Trees just kicked off,” said Marshall Aiken, parade organizer. “[We] wanted to be different from [other parades], so everybody said, ‘Why not decorate riding lawn mowers?’
“I believe the first year, we actually had eight entrants, eight people who came and did it. And that’s how it started out. We’ve expanded it a little bit over the years but we’re still trying to keep it small, country, hometown — [by using] the type of stuff that people would have at their house to decorate [with so they will not have] to spend a lot of money and decorate up big floats.”
Parade participants will start lining up at Woodland Middle School, 1061 Euharlee Road, at 4:30 p.m. Departing at 5:30 p.m., the procession will travel down Euharlee Road, turn left on Covered Bridge Road and end at the Euharlee Covered Bridge for the beginning of the Euharlee Festival of Trees.
While all entrants younger than 12 need to be accompanied by an adult, youth younger than 16 must have parental supervision when riding a powered vehicle other than a riding lawn mower. There is no fee to participate and pre-registration is not required.
“Basically, if you don’t have a ride to decorate, decorate yourself and your kids and walk in the parade,” Aiken said, adding some of the past entries that have stood out include a miniature pony carrying a monkey. “It varies [as far as memorable entries], one year ... a guy took a four-wheeler and he boxed the whole four-wheeler in and made it look like it was one giant present.
“So it was like this giant present just rolling down the road. So that was kind of neat. ... [People] definitely get creative. A couple of people, they have little rivalries and see who is going to outdo the other on decorations.”
Based on previous turnouts, John Montgomery — coordinator for the Euharlee Festival of Trees — is expecting a large crowd at The Granary, 114 Covered Bridge Road in Euharlee. In 2011, more than 1,500 people attended the Festival of Trees on its opening night, with 450 visiting in its first hour.
Presented by the Margaret Montgomery Christmas 4 Kids Foundation, which was established by Montgomery in honor of his mother, the event’s proceeds will go toward providing Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in Bartow. There will be no admission charge but donations will be accepted.
“[I enjoy seeing] the kids, even the big kids — we have a lot of them,” Montgomery said. “We try to do it as old-fashioned as possible. We try to keep it noncommercial [and make sure] nobody [is] under pressure. That’s the reason we don’t charge.
“If they want to drop the money in they can or if they can’t, they can’t,” he said, referring to donation boxes. “Some people don’t have the money. So everybody gets to enjoy it.”
From Nov. 24 to Dec. 8, about 20 Christmas trees and between eight and 10 wreaths will be on display and up for auction at The Granary. The artificial trees will vary in size — 2 feet to 9 feet tall — and decorations.
During the event’s two weeks, the trees will be available for viewing each Sunday to Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. Santa will be available for visits each Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m.
“Some people [donate] traditional trees. Some people do themes to design it,” Montgomery said. “Some people [decorate] with kitchen utensils and some people will do it with garden [items]. And it does help when they do that because people have got traditional Christmas trees.
“Most people already [have] their own trees and they’re looking for something different. And the small tabletops have gotten real popular.”
For more information about the Euharlee Festival of Trees, call Montgomery at 770-547-7747. Further details about the parade can be obtained by contacting Aiken at 770-382-6067 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If the parade is rained out, it will be rescheduled for Dec. 8.