A group of elves dances for the judges Saturday in front of the Curry County Courthouse. (Staff photo: Tony Bullocks)
By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer
Tradition trumped biting cold Saturday evening.
Hundreds of people — shivering even beneath hats, layers of clothes, and blankets — lined Main Street for the annual Christmas Lights Parade despite weather that dipped into the teens.
“People love tradition. (The parade) is a kickoff to let everyone know it’s cold — Christmas is coming,” Clovis MainStreet Executive Director Robyne Beaubien said.
For the second year in a row, Clovis MainStreet organized the parade. Formerly organized by the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce, the parade has been part of Clovis Christmas time for years, Beaubien said.
With her 8-year-old daughter hiding from the cold inside their SUV — an idea adopted by dozens of others — Clovis’ Bernadette Askew said braving the cold was worth it “just to see her (daughter) smile.”
This year’s parade ushered in another tradition — the lighting of a 24-foot Christmas tree near the Curry County Courthouse.
The Chamber and Clovis residents raised about $8,000 to purchase the towering tree, Beaubien said. It was aglow Saturday with thousands of tiny lights.
“This is a special time of year,” said County Commissioner Tim Ashley, addressing the crowd minutes before the tree was lit.
Residents counted down the seconds to the lighting of the tree with booming voices.
Clovis resident Francis Rhoden and friends sang “Silent Night” as they waited for the first floats of the parade — decked in Christmas lights — to inch down the brick road of Main Street. In a heavy coat that trailed past her knees, Rhoden said she attended the parade “to show the Christmas spirit and support the city of Clovis.”
According to Beaubien, 50 businesses, churches, organizations and school groups participated in Saturday’s parade.
The theme for this year’s parade was “A Downtown Christmas.”
Winners of the 2006 Christmas Lights Parade:
Most original: Triple AAA Bonds
Best lights: Peak Behavior Health
Best theme: ADM Laboratories, LLC
Most original: New Mexico State Police
Best lights: Potter’s House
Best theme: Potter’s House
Most original: Dusty Cole
Best lights: Southwest Flavor Jam
Best theme: Mr. and Mrs. Santa
Most original: Lockwood Elementary School
Best lights: Arts Academy at Bella Vista
Best theme: Lockwood Elementary School
Source: Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce President-elect Marty Tressell