When I was the editor of the Norman Transcript, I decided to visit a Christmas parade committee meeting. I wanted the lowdown on the parade details for our readers. But I left slightly bewildered and a brand new member of the committee (I was voluntold to join, as my fellow board member Stefanie Brickman liked to say).
Over the next four years I, along with a small but dedicated group of individuals, spent much of the year planning the parade — fundraising, inviting a grand marshal, securing a Santa Claus, collecting entries, creating the lineup, etc. It literally took almost a year to get everything planned.
There was always a lot to keep straight. Our parade crossed train tracks, which meant we needed to contact the railroad company and coordinate with them; even then, some trains can’t stop (they’re carrying hazardous material), and so we had to deal with a train cutting through the middle of the parade. We had announcer stations set up at four locations to play music and provide details on each float.
There were judges who we needed to secure and get gift cards for and usher into a room to vote after the parade. There’s always safety concerns, especially when floats wouldn’t listen to our instructions and threw candy into the streets, bringing children directly into the path of oncoming floats. It was a colossal amount of work for an event that lasted a few hours at most, but it was definitely worth it to see the joy it brought our city.
So Thursday night as I stood on the northeast corner of the Union County Courthouse, I couldn’t help but appreciate the work the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce (and anyone who helped them out) put into the parade. I know it’s not an easy process. It’s impossible to please everyone. But standing there in the brisk night air, listening to the excited cries of children as they recognized characters on floats, watching people smile and laugh and wish each other “Merry Christmas,” I definitely felt some of the magic that makes this time of year so special to me. Against the backdrop of all of the wonderful Christmas lights and decorations downtown, it’s impossible not to get into the Christmas spirit.
Thank you to the people who planned the parade and who participated in order to bring our community such a wonderful experience.
The highlight of the parade to me, and I imagine for quite a few attendees, was the Budweiser Clydesdales. They were breathtaking that close — such powerful creatures moving smoothly in unison.
Pretty impressive for horses that can weigh more than a ton when fully grown. Saturday I was downtown when they visited again, making beer deliveries and stopping for pictures with local residents. They immediately drew a crowd, phones ready for photos and smiles on their faces. What a cool experience.
Clydesdales were originally from Scotland, the result of breeding between Flemish stallions and local mares. A small draught horse breed initially, they’ve since grown into the beautiful creatures we saw on the streets of El Dorado over the past week.
I wanted to make sure our subscribers also knew about a recent addition to our digital offerings. If you’re a crossword/Sudoku fan (and, I mean who isn’t?) then you can now access those puzzles online by going to eldoradonews.com/puzzles (it’s also an option on the menu bar at the top of the website).
As someone who thinks they would be good at crosswords, but really isn’t, I like the options our digital puzzles provide: the ability to check answers, reveal letters and, if I’m completely stuck, reveal a whole word. There’s also a timing function, so you can track how quickly you’re getting them done (or completely ignore it, like I do).
Caleb Slinkard is the managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. He previously managed newspapers in Texas and Oklahoma. Contact him at [email protected].