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Parade with pioneer spirit

Saturday’s Mile Branch Settlement Pioneer Christmas Parade was a throwback to yesteryear with approximately 20 horse-drawn wagons and 30 horses.

The parade also drew some heavy hitters as guests. Franklinton Mayor Wayne Fleming rode in the final wagon, but he was upstaged by the bearded man in the bright red suit beside him, also known as Santa Claus.

Participants also included Mile Branch Settlement Honoree Chick Boyd, along with 2014 Washington Parish Fair Queen DeStanie Austin, Washington Parish Rodeo Queen Miranda Jenkins and Junior Rodeo Queen Lexie Laborde.

“We had some beautiful rigs that came out. We had some beautiful horses, wagons and buggies,” Mile Branch Settle Parade Chairman Judy Dale said. “One of the things I love about this time is that people in the community really come together. The Chamber of Commerce had the car show by the stage and a 5K Jingle Bell run/walk. The Varnado Store Museum sponsors crafts and food vendors in the Commercial Building. The Mile Branch Settlement is open with beautiful Christmas decorations and depicting the 1800s.”

The parade exited the fairgrounds, went left on Bene Street, right on 11th Street, right on Washington Street and another right on Washington Street before it took another right on Main Street and made its back to the Fairgrounds entrance.

“The parade was a huge success,” Dale said. “We encourage people to come out and enjoy it. Some people ride their wagons in from Mt. Hermon, camp and ride in the parade. It’s just a wonderful group of people who enjoy getting together, hooking their wagons up and riding in the parade.”

The annual Christmas Festival benefitting the Varnado Store Museum continued Sunday. Artists and craftsmen filled booths with Christmas lists.

Santa Claus stayed over after Saturday’s parade and had his photo taken with children. Local school and church choirs performed.

A professionally decorated Christmas tree was raffled, and the cabins at Mile Branch Settlement were decorated in vintage style with fires in the fireplaces.