Cool, sunny and nearly windless conditions contributed to the pageantry and color, making Monett's Christmas parade on Saturday a major success.
Lasting under 40 minutes, the parade provided wide variety in the floats, musical interludes, classic vehicles, clowns and marching units. The "Home for Christmas" theme provided holiday nostalgia.
Cox's stationary bicycles with riders dressed as gingerbread people were spread across the float itself, facing a stack of colorfully wrapped suckers and candy canes.
Benchmark Healthcare received second place honors for a float focusing on members of the Armed Forces in transition as American troops come home from Iraq. At one end of the float was the front of the toy stores, where uniformed soldiers carried out bags of gifts. On the other side was a house and waiting family, including a child holding a sign saying, "Welcome Home Daddy."
Third place went to a clever entry from the Seneca FFA. On top of a fire truck was perched a large, old-fashioned red sleigh packed with children.
One of the most unusual entries in the parade came from the Pierce City FFA. Centered around a transparent globe where Santa sat surrounded by blowing snow, the float reflected the theme "Rocking Around the Globe with Pierce City FFA."
The Monett FFA created a street scene with tinsel for snow running along the edge of the sidewalk and up a lamp post in the middle. The Family Worship Center asked "What Gifts Will You Choose?" with a float showing the visitors at the first Christmas and a cross with gifts piled at its base, including boxes marked "peace" and "healing" and labeled "From God."
St. Lawrence Catholic Church had a six-foot-high birthday cake at one end of their trailer. Children sat around wearing pointed party hats and blowing noisemakers beside a "Happy Birthday, Jesus" banner. The Monett High School cheerleaders, wearing their colorful purple, gold and wear warm-up suits, tossed candy to the crowd from a trailer labeled, "Have a Cheery Christmas."
The YMCA bus, with a beaked face on front, was flanked by children dancing wildly, wearing oval pillows with the faces of pigs while the music from the "Angry Birds" videogame played, alternating with the ever popular Village People's "YMCA" song. Skaters from Skateland, clowns from the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Temple, motorcycles from Bikers Against Child Abuse and many vintage vehicles provided prime parade entertainment.
Royalty from local schools and community groups added glamour to the proceedings. Mackenzie Lay, Monett High School's Miss Merrie Christmas, followed the Marching Pride Band at the front of the parade.
Strawberry Festival royalty Kadicey Wells and Wyatt Reed were joined by Little Miss Purdy candidates Leanna Moore and Emily Coffey.
Top band honors went to the Purdy Marching Eagles, followed by the Wheaton Spirit Band in Class 2A. The Pierce City Marching Eagles won the Class 3A honors.
For marching units, the giant garrison flag carried by cadets from the Southwest Area Career Center's Junior ROTC program received first place. Cub Scout Pack #140 received second place.
A traveling trophy was awarded to Crowder College's vehicle entry, flanked by marchers, some colorfully dressed, distributing paperwork on Crowder programs.
In the antique car division, Doug Hobson's 1923 Model T Ford won first place for the Monett Historical Society. Don Brown's 1929 Ford took second place. Honors for late model cars, from 1951 to 1979, went to Ken Bandy for his 1997 Chevrolet, followed by Tom Wormington's 1956 Crown Victoria. A 1983 Buick Riviera entered by the Disabled American Veterans won honors for newer classic cars.
Burl Thomas' garden-sized Farmall Cub tractor won Best of Show for tractors. The Tri-State Motors 1954 tractor-trailer received first place honors among older trucks, followed by the Monett Historical Society's 1956 Ford.
Late entries significantly boosted the number of equestrian units bringing up the end of the parade. Ronnie Myers' mounted units received Best of Show honors. A full-sized wagon pulled by draft horses from Double Horn Ranch won top honors for the horse-drawn division.
For the second year, Kiwanis Club members lined up the floats on Broadway, rather than stacking the big entries on side streets, making it easier to flow the procession together once it started.
Entries were judged prior to the parade and announced from the grandstand at Fourth and Broadway during the parade. Bands were assessed as they passed the judge's stand. Trophies for the bands not picked up are available at the Monett Chamber of Commerce office.