Originally created 12/09/96

Aiken celebrates Christmas season



AIKEN - There wasn't any snow on the ground Sunday, but the chill in the air and the carolling voices in downtown Aiken made it feel a lot like Christmas anyway.

The Aiken Jaycees Christmas parade was led by Grand Marshal J. Carrol Busbee, Aiken Department of Public Safety chief, who rode in the rumble seat of an antique Ford. He was followed by Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh and Aiken County Sheriff Howard Sellers.

A solid line of spectators formed along Park Avenue and Laurens Street, ogling vintage cars, floats and marching bands.

One of the most unusual performances was by the self-proclaimed Lawn Chair and Wheelchair Brigade. Armed with folding lawn chairs, the group clapped them open and closed in the air, then plopped them down and crossed and uncrossed their legs in unison.

The group's organizer, Barb Rollins, said she got the idea from her brother-in-law who does the same performance each year at the Miss South Dakota contest.

``We did have a lot of fun and that was the purpose of it,'' Mrs. Rollins said. ``And I think the people along the route enjoyed watching us too.''

First Baptist Church of Graniteville won first place for religious float for its rotating manger scene titled ``Reason for the Season.''

Bath Woodworking won the best commercial float, and first place for school entry float went to Oakwood-Windsor Elementary School.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Christmas parade without Santa Claus, who was perched in the bucket of an Aiken Public Safety hook-and-ladder truck.

Sonya Thomas, parade chairwoman, said the turnout was the best it has been since the mid-80s, the time of the most recent attendance results. There were 120 entries in the parade.

``It came out pretty good after we got everything rolling,'' Ms. Thomas said. ``It was just a little chaotic at the start.''