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A civic club in Sumter is trying to give children "A Storybook Christmas" while at the same time bringing joy for the holiday season to the streets of Sumter.
The Sumter Christmas Parade will march through Main Street on Sunday, Dec. 8, at 2 p.m. As part of a new service project this year, the Evening Optimist Club, which has been organizing the parade since 2003, is asking parade-goers and participants alike to donate children's books. The club will then distribute the books to schools, after-school centers and reading programs.
Collection boxes will be in front of the Sumter County Courthouse, on the plaza at Main and Liberty streets and on South Main Street in front of Central Carolina Technical College, according to Doug Griffin.
"Every year, we have a different theme. This year, we ran across this theme and decided to make use of it as a means of benefiting the community a little bit," Griffin said.
There will be a collection box near the line-up area so those walking in the parade can also donate books, he said.
The parade, which has been running every year since the 1940s except a couple years during World War II, will begin at the corner of North Main and Dubose streets and proceed south on Main to Bartlette Street.
Showcasing colorful floats, dance teams, beauty queens, marching bands and festive holiday entries, and, of course, jolly old Saint Nick, Griffin said there are more than 100 registered units with more than 2,300 participants entered.
Sumter School District Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox will serve as grand marshal, and she will be followed by groups, vehicles and floats from the Sumter Police Department, Sumter County Sheriff's Office, Sumter Fire Department, Sumter County EMS, local churches and businesses, Shriner's organizations and other local civic clubs.
USC Sumter athletes and Central Carolina Technical College students will take part in the parade, as will representatives from Sumter, Lakewood and Crestwood high schools, including AFJROTC units, cheerleaders and school queens and performances from the three schools' marching bands.
Lake Marion High School will also bring its Junior Army ROTC. Several other schools participating include Archway Academy, Cherryvale, Kingsbury, Lemira, Millwood, Wilder and Willow Drive elementary schools, Westside Christian Academy and Alice Drive, Furman and Hillcrest middle schools.
Dancers from Miss Libby's School of Dance and Gymnastics, Freed School of Performing Arts, Dreamworks Dance Academy, the Caroline Mack Center for the Arts and the Dancing Machine will be performing to the beat of popular holiday music, and several local Girl Scout troops will be marching.
Vehicles registered to participate should approach the line-up area from Corbett Street. To drop participants off, approach from Church Street, drop off on Pine Street and exit via Rowland Avenue.
Do not approach the line-up area from Main Street, as Dubose, Pine and Pear streets will be barricaded at 11:30 a.m.
All streets that intersect with Main between Dubose and Bartlette will begin closing at 1:15 p.m. The end of the parade will pass the courthouse around 3:25 p.m. and reach Bartlette around 3:40 p.m.
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