The Sun News

Santa won’t be the star of this local Christmas parade, it’ll be WWII veterans

Aura Lee Durham
Aura Lee Durham

Aura Lee Durham, chief operating officer at the Robins Regional Chamber, talks about what makes this year’s Christmas parade special.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the Robins Regional Chamber’s Christmas Parade?

A: It’s actually interacting with the community to plan and conduct the parade. People have such great Christmas spirit from toddlers on up to the grownups. All who help to make the parade what it is and of course those who come year after year to enjoy it.

Q: What’s your role?

A: Robins Regional runs the Christmas parade and for the last couple of years I’ve been the primary event coordinator. I handle it beginning to end.

Q: Are you a Warner Robins native? You would have seen a lot of parades.

A: I grew up and lived here almost all my life — and yes, I’ve seen quite a few.

Q: How long has there been a parade?

A: This is our 61st year.

Q: What sets this year apart?

A: Well, one thing is it’s the culmination of Warner Robins’ 75th anniversary year celebration. It puts the bow on celebrating our city here at the end of the year. The thing that’s really exciting is that going with the anniversary’s theme, that Warner Robins is the town that World War II built, we’re taking the opportunity to honor and thank our World War II veterans.

Q: How so?

A: We’re excited to have a handful of local World War II veterans as grand marshals. The Warner Robins Heritage Society and Sukey Hart Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution partnered with us to bring that about and allow another opportunity to honor these men and women we owe so much to as a nation and certainly as a community.

Q: How is that going to work?

A: As many local World War II veterans as we know of have been contacted and given the option of participating in one of two ways: either ride the route of the parade in a grand marshal car or come be seated in our special VIP reviewing stands and tent with hospitality services at the corner of Watson Boulevard and Davis Drive. There’ll be snacks and amenities. It would be a much, much different world without these vets doing what they did and we should thank them every day. We’re really glad to be able to do this.

Q: If a WWII veteran hasn’t been contacted is it too late?

A: Our goal is to honor them and we know unfortunately some can’t make it, but no, there’s no real deadline. Not for the reviewing stand, anyway. We might have to have a little advance notice to make sure there’s space in a car if they wanted to ride.

Q: If a WWII vet hasn’t been contacted, who should they contact

A: And Rodriguez of the Warner Robins Heritage Society at 478-953-6217 or wrheritagesociety@gmail.com.

Q: What are some parade details? When does it start? What’s the route?

A: It’s Dec. 1 and it starts at 10 a.m. at Commercial Circle-South Davis Drive and runs west on Watson Boulevard until it ends at South Houston Road. It terminates there at the Houston Healthcare Pavilion and should be done by noon. There’s a pre-parade performance at the reviewing stands at Davis and Watson at 9:45 a.m. featuring Miss 2019 Warner Robins Kelsey Hollis and Miss International City 2019 Taylor Burrell.

Q: How big is the parade?

A: It’s one of the city’s biggest events and one of the largest Christmas parades in Georgia outside Metro Atlanta. We have 125 units from school bands to Junior Air Force ROTC to marching units and dancers to all kinds of vehicles and floats from commercial and civic groups — all you’d expect in a holiday parade.

Q: What are some of the logistics?

A: It runs about an hour from any spot you want to view from and should finish by 12. Some roads start shutting down around 9 a.m., like parts of South Davis, Watson and Houston Road. They close as part of the route and for safety. As far as the weather, we’re predicting wonderful Robins Regional Chamber weather, but the parade goes on rain or shine as long as there’s no lightning.

Q: Tips?

A: Be prepared to have a really good time, that’s the main thing. But keep an eye on the weather. Bundle up if you need to and bring blankets and lawn chairs if you want.

Q: Other thoughts?

A: No, just that it’s a wonderful time to enjoy a delightful parade, honor our World War II veterans and a great time to get out and with family and friends and to make new friends and be part of our wonderful community we’re all part of. I’d like to thank everyone that helps make it happen and especially our community partners like the Houston County Board of Education, Houston Healthcare, of course, the city of Warner Robins and the Warner Robins Police Department, and our 2018 parade sponsor, Robins Financial Credit Union.

Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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