carthage christmas parade

People take part in the Carthage Christmas parade Dec. 3, 2019. Although the official parade was cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns, community members have organized their own.

CARTHAGE — When the annual Carthage Christmas parade was canceled recently because of COVID-19 concerns, residents were disappointed. David Britt decided to do something about it.

“I had promised my kids we’re going to a Christmas parade this year, so, you know, kind of had to make that happen,” Britt said. “(It’s) a big deal, and I think we’ve seen a lot of ... people stepping up during this crisis to try to kind of take the place of events that are having to be canceled for obvious reasons...

“We understand the position they’re in, and we have to respect that, but not all of us are in that position, so I thought, ‘Well, let’s see if we can just as a community put together our own.’ Made a little Facebook post, the next thing you know it went nuts, so I started doing a little research and found out that all we really needed was a permit, and then we’d work out the fine details from there.”

Britt said the community parade is set the same time and date as the official one, which is 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7.

Britt created a public Facebook group titled ”Panola County Parade Commission,” and as of Friday, more than 800 people had joined.

“We’ve had a rough enough year without having to cancel our parade. We want to send 2020 out with a bang because this has not been the best year for anybody,” Britt said.

The importance of having a Christmas parade boils down to small-town life, he said.

“Christmas parades are a part of that, and one thing that 2020 has done that we’ve seen through things like the Love Well program and social media in general, are people really stepping up and saying, ‘How can I help, what can we do?’ And it’s been, with all the negativity in the world and everything you’re seeing on television, it’s nice to know that there are communities still coming together to help, and this is just another way of us to try to come together and help out,” Britt said. “We’re not doing it for any reason other than we just want the kids to have a parade to go to. There’s nothing else behind it other than that.”

He added that everything the parade is voluntary.

“We understand the reasons that the chamber made their decision, and we understand there’s a virus, and nobody’s denying that, so it goes back to if you feel like you want to wear a mask, absolutely, we’ll go so far as to even encourage it. It’s probably not a bad idea to wear one, but you know, it’s a voluntary thing,” Britt said. “People voluntarily putting it on, people voluntarily show up, voluntarily participate.”