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W.Va. Christmas parade has some patriotic flair

December 02, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - Parades are timeless, but the one in Charles Town and Ranson on Saturday had strong hints of 2007 and the current era of war.

Float after float subtly referred to members of the U.S. military, who are fighting wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The references weren't a surprise, though; the theme of the parade was "Keep the Home Fires Burning."

Some church and youth groups conveyed that by portraying scenes of all-American life, with a soldier in fatigues just out of range, on the other side of a door or window.

"Keep the Home Fires Burning" is a reference to a song from World War I, urging families to stay strong "Till the boys come Home."

For many, though, the annual parade was a chance to think more about the coming Christmas holiday, watch friends and neighbors march, and bundle together in the cold.

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Planted on the curb at East Washington and South Mildred streets, Gregg and Nancy Bender of Charles Town sat with what Nancy called their "fur kids" - four Shetland sheepdogs.

Nancy Bender said the couple has children in Missouri, so the dogs, in a way, fill in.

Dink and Bailey, both 9 years old; Rico, 7; and Beagin ("little one" in Gaelic), 5, waited calmly with their humans for the parade to begin.

At the heart of downtown, Washington Street was thick with spectators and anticipation by the time the Jefferson High School Cougar Marching Band stepped past, playing a Christmas medley.

Other marching bands followed.

Politicians and sash-wearing misses and little misses waved as they rolled by, perched on convertibles.

There was a line of classic cars, including a Chevrolet Impala, a Chevrolet Corvette, a Plymouth Scamp and a Pontiac GTO.

Firetrucks cruised through, with horns and sirens blaring. Some children held their hands over their ears to block out the racket.

Kevin Sparks, 6, sat with his father and waved to the men in the trucks. Most of all, he was waiting to see his big brother Jason, 12, pass by with his middle school band.

On a cold afternoon, hardy spectators bundled up and hunkered down on the curb to take in the parade.

Many of them kept Nancy White and Phylis Forsyth busy with their food and drink requests at a stand outside the American Legion building.

Auxiliary members cheered when an auxiliary float went by with Heather Fauble, a local member who is also the state auxiliary president.

The top seller at the stand? Without hesitation, White, the auxiliary president in Charles Town, exclaimed, "Hot chocolate!"

For an afternoon's work, "we get 100, 150 dollars, but it's just nice to be out here," White said.

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