By IAN SKOTTE
It may be 80 degrees today, but that doesn’t mean it’s too soon to make plans for the Tullahoma Area Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade.
Chamber officials already have chosen the grand marshal — “Miss Tennessee” Chandler Lawson, a native Tullahoman who says she’s been watching the parade “ever since I was a little girl.”
“Now it’s just such an honor to be part of it,” she said.
The 56th annual parade is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7.
The decision to name Chandler as grand marshal wasn’t a tough one, according to parade co-chairman Billy Philpott.
“Chandler is a great representative of Tullahoma,” said Philpott. “So it was a pretty easy choice.”
Chamber director Diane Bryant made the grand marshal announcement at Tuesday’s monthly Chamber coffee hosted by American City Bank.
“She’s someone who’s really put Tullahoma on the map,” she said.
Bryant also helped unveil the latest issue of the Chamber’s publication Focus on Tullahoma, which features Chandler on the cover.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Chandler said.
The parade will begin at Lauderdale Street and proceed on North Jackson to the north parking lot of Tullahoma High School.
Philpott said having the parade at night “adds a bit of mystique.”
He said the darkness emphasizes the floats’ flashing lights.
“Obviously you can’t have the lights in the day,” he said.
“If it’s not broke,” Philpott said of the tradition of having a nighttime parade, “don’t fix it.”
Parade project coordinator Renee Keene said this year’s event, as usual, promises to be the best yet.
“This year’s theme of ‘Children’s Christmas Around the World’ will make for a very exciting parade,” she said. “It promises to be the biggest yet with more floats, bands, and dozens of surprises guaranteed to bring holiday cheer to everyone.”
Participants will have the chance to win cash prizes provided by area sponsors. Floats will be judged in two categories: civic/non-profit and C.E.O./school, and prizes will be handed out to first- and second-place winners in each category.
First-place floats will receive $300, courtesy of Gilliam’s Outboard Marine Sales & Service and Blood Assurance, while second-place honors earn $150, sponsored by Tullahoma Utilities Board and First Vision Bank.
There will also be competitions for floats with the best music, sponsored by Traders Bank, and a “mayor’s pick.” The winner of the best music competition will receive $75 and the creator of the mayor’s favorite float will take home a plaque.
Entry forms for the float competition will be available at the Chamber office at 135 West Lincoln St.
Entry fees range from $30 to $50 prior to the Nov. 19 deadline.