South Mills festive for annual parade
By Chris Day
Saturday, December 1, 2018
SOUTH MILLS — Eight years ago South Mills celebrated its first-ever Christmas parade and it’s still growing, residents say.
“Every year it’s grown,” said resident Amanda Verdin, moments before the start of the small town’s Christmas parade on Saturday. Verdin, who was with her children, Triston and Jackson, was referring to the number of parade participants, as well as the number of spectators. “There’s definitely more people each year.”
Verdin and her family have lived in South Mills for 13 years and she remembers the first parade, in 2010. Her oldest son Triston was three years old at the time. He’s seen every parade since.
“I like everything,” said Triston, when asked what he likes most of about the parade.
Verdin said her family was alerted to the first parade only after hearing the sirens of passing South Mills fire trucks. Stepping outside — their home is on the parade route — they realized a parade was underway.
Today, the parade is special for the residents of South Mills, she said.
“It’s our little hometown thing,” she said. “It’s just a fun thing to kick off the season.”
Jon Lemaster, 7, who was with the Verdin family, said his favorite part of the parade are the sweets tossed by people riding on the floats.
“My favorite is the candy,” he said, smiling.
Bryan Hodges, 13, said he liked the vintage farm tractors, particularly the horns on the tractors.
The parade kicked off promptly at 11 a.m. from the drawbridge on Main Street in South Mills. Leading the endless stream of parade participants were cadets and an honor guard from the Camden County High School U.S. Coast Guard Junior Leadership Program. Santa and his elf Snowdrop Holleyleaf rode a South Mills fire engine to shore up the procession.
Parade participants included area businesses, car clubs, people on horseback and service organizations, like a local Girl Scout Troop, plus the Camden High Marching Bruins band.
The parade wrapped up in the parking lot at Paradise Grocery at the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and Business 17.
After the parade, residents stopped by Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Santa made a second appearance and soup and hot cocoa were served.