The theme "Monett Express" brought many entries drawing on Monett's railroad heritage.
The parade started with the 1952 vintage Monett police car, driven by Officer Don Massengill with two of his grandchildren, Kaden and Lexi, and a niece, Serenity. A color guard by Monett veterans groups followed, ahead of the new Monett fire truck carrying Santa Claus. The Monett High School Marching Pride marched next, producing a big sound on a holiday melody to set the mood for the day.
The array of floats provided an feast for the eyes. The child care class at the Scott Regional Technology Center drew inspiration from the children's book, "The Little Train That Could," for a colorful locomotive carrying a carload of children, taking first place in the judging.
New Site Baptist Church offered an equally colorful float, with an inflated cake, balloons and wrapped presents with Bible verses written on them for their birthday salute to Jesus, the second place winner. The Seneca FFA won third with a heavily lit fire truck pulling a float with Santa's sleigh, supporting a team of reindeer suspended in the air.
The business and industry division offered awards for another series of floats. The Monett Area YMCA's Fun Bus was decorated with a snowman's hat and carrot nose, claiming first place honors. Keith McCracken's Century 21 Realty brought a small house surrounded by a picket fence with a "sold" sign for the second place prize.
In third place was an elaborate two-tiered float from Temple Baptist Church, carrying the "Glory Land Express" train on a snow-like white hillside. The train crossing sign had the words, "Life crossing, Trust Jesus." The locomotive puffed blue smoke. At the end of the train was the Pearly Gates caboose, and on the side of the float were the words, "Choo-Choo-Choosing Jesus."
Other creative float entries included a "Thomas the Train" main float from the Tri-County Pregnancy Resource Center, followed by little walking trains carried by other children. The Pierce City FFA entered a broken down Santa sleigh, mounted on a four-wheeler, towed by a tricycle, whose rider had to pedal furiously to keep the tow strap taut.
The Monett Police Department entered a float, possibly a first for the department. The float featured a homespun living room scene with an inflated Santa waving to the crowd. St. Lawrence Catholic School float carrying children with many Biblical names for the Messiah posted along the sides.
In the band division, where the Monett High School entry was not judged, the Pierce City Eagle Pride in black uniforms and shining silver helmets took first place. The Purdy Marching Band won second and the Billings Junior High and High School Band won third.
Among the marching units, the Junior ROTC cadets from the Scott Regional Technology Center paraded their garrison flag with a full contingent needed to carry it. Their effort won first place. A full marching group from Cub Scout Pack #140 won second place honors.
Top honors for antique cars went to Jesse Cooper, of Purdy, for his 1929 Ford Cabaret roadster. Rex and Carol Kay took second with their 1929 Essex sedan. Among the late antique cars, from 1951 to 1979, Ken Bandy won Best in Show for his 1957 black Chevrolet Bel Aire. Doug Childress' 1995 Jeep Wrangler, dressed up at the Monett Cub Mobile, took top honors for newer classic cars.
A 1956 Chevrolet entered by Wilber Riddell won first place for older trucks. Tom Wormington's 1956 Ford F100 took second place. Kelly Bremer's 1930 McCormick-Deering tractor won Best of Show in a division with many competitive entries.
A strong group also competed in the equestrian division. Ronnie Myers took home Best of Show with his horse. The Monett FFA won horse-drawn honors for their "Old Thyme Country Christmas" wagon pulled by two draft horses.
Royalty in the parade included Monett High School's Miss Merrie Christmas, Raigan Ratliff, and her court, Anna Cloud and Anabriel Ortega. The four candidates for Miss Merry Christmas from Wheaton High School were in attendance: senior and winner Oralia Salas, junior Christina Yang, sophomore Yesenia Castro and freshman Crystal Alvarado, each riding in a separate convertible.
Couples vying for holiday honors from Purdy High School rode in the parade. They included: freshmen Andrea Humphrey and Omar Ahktar; sophomores Billie House and Robby Moody; juniors Jennifer Hernandez and Chuy Perez; and seniors Bailey Spears and Tyler Jones.
The parade included many crowd favorites among the vehicles. Alan Obermann had the 1955 John Deere tractor driven for many years by Wilmer Bray back with a sign bearing a photo of its previous owner. The Monett Historical Society and the Monett Senior Citizens Center were both represented by two stellar examples of classic vehicles. The Barry County Shrine Club's Firehouse Gang was back with their fire truck, as was the ever-popular 1954 turquoise tractor and trailer from Tri-State Motor Transit Company.
Several motorcycle groups entered the parade, including the Bikers Against Child Abuse and the New Site Riders. A large group from Barry County Search and Rescue, including several four-wheelers, joined the procession.
At the conclusion of the 45-minute parade, Santa Claus returned to Fourth and Broadway to hear children's wishes and pose for photos.
Parade organizers were pleased with the annual event. Awards were handed out prior to the parade and announced by Heno Head as the winners passed the grandstand at Fourth and Broadway. Winners who did not receive their trophies can contact the Monett Chamber of Commerce office at 235-7919.