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Holiday parade a growing tradition

December 08, 1997

Holiday parade a growing tradition

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

INWOOD, W.Va. - Two years ago, only about five groups turned out for the parade that preceded the lighting of the community Christmas tree in Inwood and "they were just in the back of pickup trucks," according to this year's co-chair Darla Rutherford.

The third annual parade held Sunday featured more than 70 floats, vehicles and groups consisting of several hundred participants. Lining the relatively short parade route were close to 2,000 people braving brisk winds and gray skies, or huddled inside their cars.

"This was my daughter's dream. Three years ago she said, 'Let's try and have a community Christmas tree,'" said Ray Rieg, one of the organizers, of his daughter Cora "Peachie" Crim.

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"I will now be able to have my husband back," said Rieg's wife Ann as fireworks marked the end of the parade and tree lighting.

Antique cars, 4-H clubs, Girl Scouts, the Musselman High School marching band and scores of others paraded down Church Street, W.Va. 51 and U.S. 11. Santa Claus came to town on a pickup truck-drawn sleigh.

"You've got to brave this stuff for the kids," said Sherry Custer of Martinsburg, who brought granddaughters Katie and Megan Kees and Paige Manriquez.

Despite the chilly weather, parents held well-bundled toddlers in their arms to get a look at Miss West Virginia, Eisa Megan Krushansky, and grand marshal Jamie Costello of WMAR-TV in Baltimore, a former sportscaster for a local radio station, WEPM/WKMZ.

Frank Rutherford, who co-chaired this year's event with his wife, hopes next year's will be even bigger. After the lighting of the 39-foot tree donated by the Douglas Kees family, he said organizers hope to have a live tree next year to serve as the community Christmas tree for years to come.

There's almost always a Grinch in every Christmas story and Inwood's in no exception.

Darla Rutherford said last year someone tried to burn the tree by dousing it with gasoline.

The arsonist was never caught, but many of the decorations for the tree were destroyed and had to be replaced, she said. This year, the tree is hooked up to an alarm system that will set off a siren if someone tampers with it again.

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