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Colonial Heights Parade sees Christmas Through a Child's Eyes
By Sarah Steele Wilson, Newsroom Editor
Dec 5, 2012, 14:46

photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Children waved at passing fire trucks and floats and danced as marching bands played tunes.

As the Grand Marshal’s vehicle rolled down Boulevard in Colonial Heights at the start of the Jaycees Annual Christmas Parade, a living symbol of this year’s theme was waving at the crowd from his place of honor.

The name Jaxon Gibbs has become familiar to some in the local community as his family has arranged benefits and promoted awareness of Coats’ Disease, a rare eye disease that afflicts the toddler.

Tina Burton, a Colonial Heights teacher who has helped arrange a number of benefits for ailing children in the last year, served as the Grand Marshal Tuesday and knew exactly who she wanted to join her: Jaxon and his mother Elke Gibbs.

“The theme is Christmas through a child’s eyes, and they contacted me to help because I’ve worked with children,” Burton said. “It’s to promote children.”

Children and families turned out in full force, lining the Boulevard as the floats of 60 participants passed by on a parade route that was slightly shortened this year, as construction of the city’s new court house necessitated the designation of a new end point for the procession.
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Children waved at passing fire trucks and floats and danced as marching bands played tunes.

“Organizing the parade this year has been such a challenge due to all the construction down at the court house,” said Courtney Chaplin, president of the Colonial Heights Jaycees.

Although construction work created a challenge for Chaplin’s second year organizing what she said is a 60-year-old event, the unseasonably warm weather was on her side.

“We’ve had 60 participants this year, which is awesome. It’s more than last year,” she said. “Even though the parade is shortened, we have tons of people out here because it is so nice.”

To get those 60 participants, the Jaycees reach out to the Colonial Heights Chamber of Commerce to encourage businesses to participate in the event.

Chaplin said that while the Jaycees usually lose money hosting the parade, this year, they had enough participation and sponsorship to make money.

“All that money goes right back into the community, to our kids,” she said.

Some audience members sat on the curb, while others brought lawn chairs and others backed pick up trucks up to the road and perched in the truck beds to watch brightly lit floats, dancers from local studios, marching bands and even decorated hearses roll down the street.

When asked what they thought of the parade, Roberta Bonet, a Sandston resident, and her mother, Priscilla Houston, who lives in Colonial Heights, rushed to answer.

“I really loved it,” Bonet“I thought it was great,” they said in unison.

Bonet’s aunt, Gloria Moore, is visiting from Florida and was thrilled to see her boyfriend, Roland Demers, become a last minute addition to the festivities.

Moore said that the original Santa got sick, so one of her daughters who is a member of the Colonial Heights Chamber of Commerce asked Demers to step in.

“The weather was great for the parade this year, there’s more people out and I think it did good for everybody to be here,” Bonet said, noting that the event helps get everyone in the Christmas spirit.

Marsha Tsiptsis was visiting the parade for the first time in years.

“It was awesome,” she said. “It was a great parade.”
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Several of the participants in Tuesday night’s parade on the Boulevard featured military themes.

Her daughter, Kelly Tsiptsis said she was surprised by the intricacy of the float designs.

“I’m ready to come back,” she said, noting that she and her mother would definitely be there again next year.

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