By Greg Gelpi
Paint is drying, lights are hanging and the city of Jonesboro is set to host its 12th annual Christmas parade.
Kendrick Middle School students have been squeezing in a few minutes here and a few minutes there to create banners, signs and decorations for its entry into the parade, media specialist Cheryl Goff said.
The 60 Kendrick Middle students will be among 1,650 who will march and parade through the streets of Jonesboro Saturday, Arts Clayton Events Coordinator Sara Cookson said. Students, marching bands, classic cars, politicians and even beekeepers will wind from the intersection of McDonough Street and Stockbridge Road north to the Confederate Cemetery, cross the railroad tracks and then turn south along Main Street to the Historic Courthouse. And, of course, Santa Claus himself will be anchoring the parade, which is set to roll at 4:30 p.m.
"It's becoming a countywide signature event as well as one for Arts Clayton," Cookson said.
The Tara Beekeepers Association won't have any live bees, but they will join the parade for the first time, along with classic entries, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, Cookson said.
"It grows every year," she said, adding that the parade is drawing participants from as far north as the North Georgia mountains and as far south as Macon. "It just becomes more and more exciting."
Kendrick students earned spots in the parade through reading, Goff said. The school is encouraging students to read 25 books during the school year, which is equivalent to about a million words, although many students have surpassed that goal midway through the year.
"I had a couple of students, who had never seen a parade," Goff said.
U.S. Congressman David Scott, D-Atlanta, will be the grand marshal of the parade.
Along with the parade, Arts Clayton will feature artists throughout the city, capturing images of Jonesboro on canvas, arts and crafts vendors, the Christmas tree lighting and a street dance.
More than 50 vendors will participate, Jonesboro Main Street Manager Kathryn Lookofsky said, including a "little bit of everything."
"It looks like it will be good weather, which will be good," Lookofsky said.
For more information, visit www.artsclayton.org or call Arts Clayton at (770) 473-0848 or the city of Jonesboro at (770) 478-3800.