By Sherry Lucas
Things could get ugly at the Christmas parade this year. Festive ugly. Real tacky. Parade-goers and participants are encouraged to just get into the spirit, embrace the theme and tacky up for the fun.
The Clinton Chamber Christmas Parade will roll with the theme “A Tacky Clinton Christmas,” offering participants the opportunity to dig around in the deepest recesses of their closets, pull out a tacky Christmas sweater or their goofiest holiday garb — elf ears, Santa hats, reindeer antlers or Rudolph red noses — and wear it with pride as the parade rolls through downtown Clinton at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 2, and much merriment ensues.
The theme idea bubbled up in brainstorming by organizers.
“We always tie the theme of the parade and the Yule Run together, and we decided we wanted the run medal to be a tacky sweater design for 2023,” said Anna Nutt, executive director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce.
“We thought people could have fun with this theme, because it can be over the top, with extra decorations and can go in a lot of fun directions!”
The hope is that crowds of families and friends buy into the spirit, enjoy the parade and have a ton of fun with the floats, plus dress up (or down, as the fashion police may say), to stick with the theme.
“Because we live in Mississippi, we never know the weather on parade day,” Nutt said. “It could be thirty degrees, but it might also be eighty-five degrees! We hope no matter the temperature, people dress in ‘tacky,’ over-the-top attire.”
Typically, between one hundred and one hundred twenty-five entries roll with the fun in the Christmas Parade, and organizers hope for even more this year. Entrants can register at ClintonChamberMS.org. Spectators should keep an eye out for plenty of community groups floating by, and will hear some great music from the marching bands from Clinton Junior High, Clinton High School, Mississippi College and Hinds Community College.
“To me, the best thing about the Christmas Parade is that it is an annual event people look forward to every year. It’s an event that babies to adults love,” Nutt said. “I’ve attended this parade every year since I was a child, so it’s fun for me to see it from a new perspective now.”
“The parade is an important part of what the Chamber does for our community,” she said. “A lot of Chamber events are geared toward our members, but this is something important we provide to everyone in Clinton.”
Santa Claus Crawl kicks off big holiday weekend in Clinton
By Sherry Lucas
The Santa Claus Crawl may be one of the smaller events Main Street Clinton organizes, but it’s a big deal to shoppers and shops who get into the holiday spirit and revel in the later hours and chance for a festive outing.
This year’s Santa Claus Crawl is Thursday, November 30, with check-in at the Main Street Clinton tent at 5:30 p.m. The event wraps up with an 8 to 9 p.m. “After Party” at the Olde Towne Depot, with snacks and drinks from local eateries.
About one hundred to one hundred twenty-five people usually attend the event, patterned after a “pub crawl,” but really offering an intoxicating array of goodies, gifts and apple cider.
Crawl participants receive a keepsake ceramic mug for a merry round of cider sampling at all the stops, and the opportunity to win door prizes offered by downtown businesses. Tickets are $25 for early registration, and $30 on event day.
“The goal is to bring people to our downtown and also to support downtown businesses,” said Main Street Clinton Director Tara Lytal.
This year’s Crawl participants include Panoply, Meme’s Brick Street Bakery, Lovely, As You Wish, The Cupboard, The Outlet by As You Wish, Olde Towne Barre, Potter & Clay Studio, Wyatt Waters Gallery, Olde Towne Chiropractic, The Bank by Pizza Shack, Art and Craft Market, Catering by Cathy, Hetrick Real Estate, Century 21 Maselle & Associates and Jillian’s Salon & Boutique.
This year’s Santa Claus Crawl will feature an extra dose of festivity, as Mississippi College musicians play Christmas music around the downtown area. That’s the perfect touch to entertain shoppers as they make their way from one shop or business to the next, finding specials and signing up for prizes. After the shopping, they can stroll over to the Olde Towne Depot for the After Party and door prizes given away by Santa.
Santa Claus Crawl is the jolly start of a busy weekend that buzzes with holiday bustle. The lighting of City’s Christmas tree and photos with Santa, plus a free Dinner and a Movie showing of The Grinch happens Friday, December 1. Then, on Saturday, December 2, the Clinton Chamber of Commerce has its annual Yule Run and Clinton Chamber Christmas Parade.
“It just helps us get in that holiday season,” said Allison Reno, owner of Meme’s Brick Street Bakery. “For me, I’m coming off of Thanksgiving, and it’s this really great kickstart to Christmas.” She’ll be serving something sweet, such as a pecan bar or fun Christmas treat in-store, and Meme’s serves up the desserts at the After Party. The Santa Claus Crawl “starts off the great Christmas season and carries me all the way through the night before Christmas,” she said. Be sure to check out Meme’s assorted boxes, a local favorite that works just as well as a hostess gift as it does for a present for a co-worker.
Sara Allen, whose boutique, Lovely, opened in downtown Clinton last July, looks forward to greeting regulars and meeting new customers at her first Santa Claus Crawl.
“I love Clinton, and I love Christmas,” said Allen. “I’m just really excited to have the opportunity to have a merry outing.” The Crawl is a good-time magnet for friends and families, and she’ll be serving up her grandmother’s apple cider for sampling, as well as a discount on holiday items.
“I’m excited to be a part of this retail community,” Allen continued. “It’s grown a lot over the past year, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Since its start, the Santa Claus Crawl has won some diehard fans, who snap up tickets the day they go on sale.
“This event is very popular,” Lytal said. With limited space at the After Party at Olde Towne Depot, only one hundred thirty tickets can be sold this year.
“We have a very loyal following of ladies’ friend groups who plan to attend every year,” Lytal said. “Many tell us that it is their favorite Christmas event!”
Choirs receive all superior ratings, plan performance for Nov. 30
The Sumner Hill Junior High School (SHJHS) choirs traveled to Pearl High School to compete in the Riverland Choral Competition. SHJHS Collective (Mixed Choir), Vibrance (Treble Choir) and Spectrum (Mixed Ensemble) received all superior ratings for their performances. Collective was awarded Best in Class Freshmen Choir, and Spectrum was awarded Best in Class Freshmen Ensemble. The choirs will present their award-winning performance to the public at 6:30 p.m. on November 30 in the SHJHS auditorium.
Christmas of Remembrances planned for Dec. 1
The Senior Adult Ministry of First Baptist Church Clinton (FBCC) will host their fourth annual Christmas of Remembrances on Friday, December 1, at 6 p.m. in the church sanctuary.
The service of remembrances is open to the community.
“This Christmas, as we celebrate the Christ Child, our departed family and friends will be celebrating His birth in Heaven,” said Linda Ivy of FBCC. “This may be your first Christmas without him or her, so naturally they are deeply on your mind. We want to be a part of normalizing (as best we can) this season of joy.”
During the special service, attendees will celebrate Christmas and have the opportunity to light red votive candles in memory of their loved ones and friends who are gone from their midst. The votives will be placed on a Christmas tree especially designed for this purpose.
The service will include readings, a short devotion and music designed to quieten attendees’ hearts and still their spirits. Dr. Kay Bender, who plays with the Mississippi Baptist Symphony, will be the harpist.
“We hope you can be with us for this special time, to light your own votive during this roll call, and enjoy the fellowship of kindred souls,” said Ivy.
The service will be followed with a time of fellowship and traditional refreshments in the FBCC Fellowship Hall.
City tree lighting, movie set for Dec. 1
Clinton will light up Olde Towne with Christmas cheer on Friday, December 1, with the lighting of the City Christmas tree at 6:15 p.m. in front of City Hall. The tree lighting will feature Arise Choir from Lovett Elementary School, the Clinton Public School District’s sixth-grade school.
The tree lighting will be followed by a showing of The Grinch (2018 version), hosted by Main Street Clinton, at 7 p.m.
Santa will be available to take photos in front of City Hall on Jefferson Street. Children can also enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while they write their Christmas letters for Santa to take back with him to the North Pole.
Attending the lighting of the official City Christmas tree has been a holiday tradition for families each year. Organizers say that the event, sandwiched in between Main Street Clinton’s Thursday, November 30, Santa Claus Crawl and Saturday’s annual Chamber of Commerce Christmas parade, will offer the opportunity for a long weekend of holiday cheer for Clinton families.
Clintonians are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets and stick around Olde Towne Clinton after the lighting for the free showing of the movie on Jefferson Street. Seating will be first come, first pick.
Polar Express coming to Depot
Clinton’s Olde Towne Depot will offer three opportunities for children to get into the holiday spirit with The Polar Express Pajama Party on Friday and Saturday, December 1 and 2.
Kids are encouraged to come dressed in their cozy pajamas for the event.
Children, accompanied by a parent or other adult, will enjoy a train ride on Turner the Train, surprise interactive segments, and a gift from Santa, as well as a screening of the film, The Polar Express, a much-loved story of an imaginative young boy and his Christmas Eve train ride. Attendees will also enjoy a treat and hot chocolate.
Tickets are $10 per person for children and adults, and space is limited. Showtimes are at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 1, and 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 2.
Tickets can be reserved at MainStreetClinton.wufoo.com/forms/the-polar-express-pajama-party.
For more information, call the Depot at 601-924-0113.
Tacky Clinton Christmas theme creeps into 2023 Yule Run
By Sherry Lucas
The Yule Run gets a spirited twist in its sixth year. In keeping with its tradition of tie-ins with the Clinton Chamber Christmas Parade, the Yule Run, too, will hit the streets under a theme of “A Tacky Clinton Christmas.”
“I’m hoping it’s as tacky as can be,” Nathan Cummins, Yule Run coordinator, said with a chuckle. He’s looking forward to the Saturday, December 2 event through Clinton’s decorated downtown.
“The run is a Chamber event, and, for the last two to three years, we really tried to tie in a theme of the parade with the run,” said Cummins. “We just have a big morning of events!”
Feet hit the street in the Yule Run at 7:30 a.m. on December 2, with options to suit a suite of abilities (and even schedules, with the virtual component). There’s a 5K Walk, a 5K Run, an 8K Run, and virtual versions of the 5K Walk, 5K Run and 8K Run.
The run wraps up around 9 a.m., and the Clinton Chamber Christmas Parade starts its jolly progression at 10 a.m.
“The race starts and finishes in downtown Clinton, so people can come run the race, and then walk a street over and watch the parade,” Cummins said.
The initial years of the Yule Run attracted one hundred to one hundred fifty participants, but the past few years pulled in around two hundred fifty, counting both actual and virtual runners.
“We’re right on pace for two hundred fifty again this year,” Cummins reported. “We’ve been pretty steady in our participation.”
The partnership with presenting sponsor Continental Tire has given the run a big boost, by encouraging their company’s runners to sign up and stretching the Yule Run’s reach.
“In the past, we’ve had some participants, virtually, from outside the United States with Continental, and signup from various states. … It’s a Clinton thing, but our reach is not just in the local area.”
And, on the tacky end, this year’s medal boasts a theme-worthy sweater that “represents exactly what you think it is,” Cummins said, laughing. He hopes that race day is cold enough that runners and walkers can take their own tacky Christmas sweaters for an outing on the racecourse.
“We’re hoping that everyone comes tackily dressed … and really shows out for the race,” he said. And, even for those not on the run, it’ll be a fun sight to see.
To sign up for the Yule Run, visit https://runsignup.com/Race/MS/Clinton/YuleRunClinton2021.
Gingerbread house competition entries due December 9
By Sherry Lucas
Ladies and gentlemen, start your ovens. Main Street Clinton’s Gingerbread House Competition is just around the bend, and area bakers will want to spice things up for it.
Entries will be judged on Saturday, December 9, and the houses will remain on exhibit at the Olde Towne Depot, so townfolk can get a good look at the cooking creativity at work in Clinton.
It’s not all gumdrops and lollipops and pretzel picket fences. Constructions need to be sturdy enough to withstand a week’s worth of display and the steely gazes of onlookers eager to judge the sweet little abodes for a People’s Choice Award.
Clintonians can go ahead and make plans to swing by during Depot business hours to see the houses vying for awards, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, December 12, through Saturday, December 16.
The competition is open to all ages and skill levels. There will be two children’s categories — one for kids age 6 and younger, and another for kids age 7 to 12. Teens will compete in a separate category, for ages 13-18, and adults will have their own category.
This is the fifth annual competition, and the contest appears to be gaining a crumb-hold in Clinton.
“Participation has grown each year,” said Tara Lytal, Main Street Clinton director. “In 2018, we had five houses.” Last year saw a bounty of thirteen participants, including some great ones from Clinton High’s culinary arts class.
“Each year, we allow students to showcase their creativity in our annual CHS Gingerbread Competition,” said Chef Instructor Catherine Bruce. Level 1 culinary students build smaller gingerbread houses with graham cracker walls, while Level 2 students bake houses from scratch and custom design them. After judging and awards, the winners are transported to the Olde Towne Depot for display. Bruce said it’s a great chance for them to put just-learned baking and pastry arts skills — icing techniques, chocolate work and sugar arts — to the test.
“The students really have fun with this assignment and think outside the box,” Bruce said. “There have been Christmas surf shacks, food trucks, tree houses, and even a Clinton Arrow football stadium. We can’t wait to see what they come up with this year!”
Other factors, too, may be at work, boosting the confectionary competitors in Main Street Clinton’s competition.
“I believe that there has been renewed interest in many crafts as families stay home more and look for experiences,” Lytal said.
With only two years of participation under their belts, the Renicks already consider it a family tradition.
“The kids do everything themselves, so they usually start constructing their concept out of card stock days before it’s due,” mom Sara Renick said. “Then, they make and bake tons of gingerbread, and I have to go back to the store multiple times, because they use so much powdered sugar making the icing!
“We homeschool, so, after lunch, they are all busy destroying our dining room with more powdered sugar and general stickiness,” she kidded. “Usually, there is Christmas music playing in the background, and it’s great fun for everyone – except the dining room table and the floor!”
“We have been blown away by the complexity of some of the designs,” Lytal said of entries, including “amazing” themed constructions, from a fishing cabin to a church, and their delightful details. “Maybe it’s the popularity of the cooking/baking shows that has challenged people to step it up a notch, but participants have definitely done so. We are seeing them make ‘glass’ windows and use pretzels for cabin roofs. I would encourage people to come by the Olde Towne Depot during the display.
“Individuals who compete get so much joy from the experience and from sharing their designs with the public.”
To find. out more and to register, contact Main Street Clinton or the Olde Towne Depot at 601-924-0113.
Christmas Carnival planned for sickle cell warriors
The Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation (MSCF) will host a Christmas Carnival for sickle cell warriors and their families on Saturday, December 16.
Coordinating the event this year is Tobi Breland of Clinton, nurse practitioner at Children’s of MS Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCCBD) and MSCF board member, and Teresa Walker, registered nurse at CCCBD and MSCF board member.
“Each year, the Foundation sponsors this event for our young warriors, but we have not been able to have it since 2018, due to the pandemic. We are excited to bring it back this year and hope to have a good turnout,” said Breland.
“Sickle cell is a prevalent genetic blood disorder with many possible complications,” said Breland. “We plan the event to provide some holiday fun for families who deal with the effects of it daily.”
The carnival will feature lots of games, food, a cake walk and a special visit and gifts from Santa. Parents are invited to snap a photo of their youngsters with the Jolly ‘Ol Elf.
Set for 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Jackson’s Christian Life Center, the event is free, but is limited to children with sickle cell disease and their immediate family only.
“We hope families will come and experience some happiness and joy with others who understand what they go through on a daily basis,” said Breland. “We want them to know they are not alone.”
For more information, email MSSickleCellFND@yahoo.com.
Spirit of Christmas Tour announced for 13th year
This Christmas season marks the thirteenth year that The Clinton Courier will sponsor the Spirit of Christmas Tour for the community. Designed to encourage businesses and homeowners to decorate for the holidays, the Tour was initially created to replace a former awards program the City used to sponsor that recognized homes throughout town that were particularly festive or well-lit with holiday displays.
In prior years, the Tour has included close to one hundred homes, businesses and subdivisions. Citizens can nominate themselves and their own house or business; a neighbor whose seasonal efforts stand out; or simply a place that they think other people would enjoy seeing during the holiday time.
Every single year of the Tour has been a phenomenal community success, said Courier publisher Clay Mansell.
“This Tour has done so much for the city — it’s created a holiday tradition, brought visitors to town to enjoy our holiday spirit, provided an opportunity for families to have time together, and spread Clintonian’s spirit and joy of Christmas near and far,” said Mansell. “I say this repeatedly: the decorations get bigger and better every year. I’m anticipating this year will NOT be an exception!”
“We encourage households and businesses, one and all, to get into the holiday spirit and participate! Spread the Christmas joy for all to see!”
Nominations can be made to office@TheClintonCourier.net or by calling 601-990-9511. All decorations should be in place and lit by the time judging begins on December 3.
Judging will be completed between December 4-8. The December 19, 2023, edition of The Clinton Courier will include the addresses of homes and businesses that make the tour, and each participant in the tour will be acknowledged with a yard sign.