Parade to kick off Euharlee Festival of Trees Saturday
by By Marie Nesmith
Nov 22, 2011 | 3308 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Donald Savage, left, and Jeff O’Banion rode in the Euharlee Festival of Trees Parade with O’Banion’s Clydesdales last year.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
Donald Savage, left, and Jeff O’Banion rode in the Euharlee Festival of Trees Parade with O’Banion’s Clydesdales last year. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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Riding lawnmowers, wagons and tractors will take to the streets for the Euharlee Festival of Trees Parade on Saturday. The untraditional parade invites participants to use their creativity, winding through the parade route on horses or decorated vehicles, such as bicycles, motorcycles, golf carts, floats or trailers.

"It started out nine years ago as strictly riding lawnmowers and to carry on that tradition [we were] trying to figure out [other] unique stuff to [enter]," said Marshall Aiken, parade organizer. "The only way we allow cars or trucks in is if you're pulling a float because we didn't want to turn it into a car show. Being that we're still kind of out in the country out here, [the parade features] some of the things that you would see in the country like tractors, ATVs, side by sides and stuff like that and plus golf carts -- you'll see them from some of the neighborhoods like Shaw Woods.

"[We] put all that in there just to give it an interesting twist, so to speak. ... [We encourage people] just to come out and have a good time. If you don't have something to decorate up like a vehicle or something like that, wrap yourself and your kids up and you can walk in the parade."

For Aiken, two entries in particular stand out since the parade started in the early 2000s.

"This guy had a miniature pony and I believe he had it dressed up real Christmassy and I may be wrong because there was a bunch of stuff going on but I think he had a little monkey riding on top of it," he said. "It was cute as a button.

"The other one was a guy [who took] a four-wheeler and built a wood frame all the way around it so it looked like a giant Christmas present coming down the road. You couldn't see wheels or nothing. It looked like a giant Christmas present with [some] Christmas presents up on top of it. It was just cute to see this giant box rolling down the road, I mean this giant present, because he had it wrapped up with bows and everything else too."

On Saturday, parade participants will start lining up at Woodland Middle School at Eurharlee, 1061 Euharlee Road in Euharlee, at 4:30 p.m. The procession will depart at 5:30 p.m. and end at the Euharlee Covered Bridge for the beginning of the Euharlee Festival of Trees. While all entrants younger than 11 need to be accompanied by an adult, youth younger than 16 must have parental supervision when riding a powered vehicle other than a riding lawnmower. There is no fee to participate and pre-registration is not required.

If last year's turnout is any indication, John Montgomery -- coordinator for the Euharlee Festival of Trees -- is expecting a large crowd at The Granary, 114 Covered Bridge Road in Euharlee. In 2010, more than 800 people attended the Festival of Trees in its first two hours.

"[I enjoy] seeing people have fun," Montgomery said. "With ... the money situation these days, they come to this place and they don't have to spend one penny if they don't want to. Everything's offered for free. [Donations go] to buying Christmas [offerings] for needy children -- toys, clothing.

"It's just an old-fashioned atmosphere. We're trying to stay as non-commercial as possible. It's kind of like going back home to grandma's. If I can get people to go home and lay there at nighttime and think about it, then I've done my job."

From Saturday to Dec. 10, 23 Christmas trees and about four wreaths will be on display and up for auction at The Granary. From 3 feet to 7.5 feet tall, the artificial trees vary in size and decorations.

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.

There will be no admission charge but donations will be accepted. 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.

For more information about the Euharlee Festival of Trees, call Montgomery at 770-547-7747 or visit Euharlee Festival of Trees on Facebook. More details about the parade can be obtained by contacting Aiken at 770-382-6067 or euharleeparade@aol.com.