The Monett Police Department's 1952 squad car driven by Chief Tim Schweder headed the procession west down Broadway. A color guard from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans preceded one of Monett's fire trucks, where Santa Claus sat on top waving to the crowd.
The Monett High School Marching Pride filled the air with seasonal music, setting the mood for the event.
Floats provided a number of takes on the theme "Christmas through the Ages." Taking first place in the non-religious division was Cox Monett Hospital wellness program spinners. Riders, all dressed as reindeer, on stationary bikes linked by gold tinsel peddled in rhythm to the calls of the exercise instructor, seated in Santa's sleigh.
In second place was the Benchmark Healthcare float, a wintery scene of white fluff, centered around a big top hatted snowman. A park bench next to a white Christmas tree and riders bundled for the occasion completed the scene.
The Monett FFA took third place with a float split in the middle. The front half showed the original manger scene with animal cutouts and students dressed as shepherds. In the back was a traditional family Christmas scene, with a family gathered between a fireplace and a decorated tree, with father on a lounge chair and mother on a rocker, surrounded by children.
In the religious division, the First Baptist Church won top honors for an unconventional presentation. A marching delegation, some in period costumes, held signs saying, "One king held the frankincense," "One king held the purest gold" and "One king held the hope of the world." At the rear of the group a man dressed in period shepherd's clothes pulled a rolling cart with a manger labeled "Jesus" and a cross.
The Promesa Assembly of God took second place with a costumed ensemble of Christmas story figures with shepherd, angels and the holy family. The Church of the Nazarene won third place for a trailer with a few church members seated on it while a larger group handed out fliers to the crowd.
Several floats provided exceptional commentary on the theme. The entry from St. Lawrence Catholic Church had waving children seated on a trailer edged with a streamer describing Christmas through the ages, from the birth of Jesus to the introduction of the Christmas tree in 1500, the establishment of a federal holiday in the United States in 1870 to the present day.
Eight Pierce City FFA Chapter members carried a banner "Pierce City FFA gets on Santa's nice list" ahead of a float carrying little signs describing the club's many service projects. The Monett Area YMCA decorated its van like a train locomotive and pulled a trailer of large decorated packages.
The Junior ROTC program from the Southwest Area Career Center won top honors among the marching units. Uniformed cadets carried flags from the different divisions of the Armed Forces and other squads from the program's different competition groups marched together.
In the vehicle competition, judges picked Doug Hobson's 1923 Model T from the Monett Historical Society as the Best in Show. Tom Wormington's 1956 Ford Victoria won first place among late model antique cars. John Embrey's 1967 Ford Fairlane 500 took second.
In antique trucks, Larry Faucett's 1926 Model T pickup took Best in Show. Tom Wormington's 1956 Ford was first among late model antique trucks. The classic 1954 White 22 tractor trailer from Tri-State Motor Transit claimed second place.
Burl Thomas's 1948 International won Best in Show among the tractors. Alan Obermann's 1955 John Deere tractor took top honors in the late model division.
Among the bands, the six members of the Wheaton High School that marched earned Class 1A top honors. In Class 2A, Sarcoxie High School playing "Jingle Bell Rock" won first and Purdy High School playing Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" took second place. Pierce City High School took first in Class 3A playing "Joy to the World."
Ronnie Myers' horses took first place in the equestrian division.
Numerous vehicles and clowns from the Barry County Shriner and the Abou Ben Adhem Temple in Springfield brought color and shenanigans to the procession. A roller skating contingent from Skateland and several large vehicles from the Rock Climbers 4x4 Club from Fayetteville, Ark. provided visual treats not seen last year. Nine vehicles from the Fairview Antique Auto Club and 10 motorcycles from Bikers Against Child Abuse helped to pump up the show to 40 minutes.
Santa Claus stayed to greet children, hand out candy and hear Christmas wishes at Fourth and Broadway after the parade concluded.
Parade chairman Leonard Witt said he was pleased the event had gone well. This year's crowd appeared larger than last year, he said. Dayton Mackey, who helped organize the parade lineup with other members of the Kiwanis Club, said the return to the past strategy of keeping all the floats on Broadway and feeding in marching units and vehicles from side streets worked particularly well and will likely be used again next year.