Batesburg-Leesville, SC (Paul Kirby) The Batesburg-Leesville Chamber of Commerce partnered with a number of people, groups and agencies to make Sunday night’s parade, tree lighting, and Christmas extravaganza a huge success. Mike Taylor, the Executive Director of the chamber, said that the night was the culmination of weeks of work by volunteers, the town, and many others, and each of these people was critical to the success of the event.
The parade is one of the few in the area that starts right as darkness falls. Each parade float was homemade, a point that Taylor says is especially important since the work of preparing the floats brings the community together. “I worked on one on Saturday, so I know the effort it takes to bring these to fruition, but it also makes better friends when you’re working side-by-side,” Taylor told the crowd. As the parade ran its route, lights flashed and twinkled, and there was an occasional blast of a siren from the firetrucks or police cars that dotted the route.
At the end of the parade, instead of it just disbanding, it filtered into college park where volunteers had built a fire pit, decorated a huge live tree, and had the stage set up with lights and sound. Here, Taylor took the mic and introduced act after act. Some sang, others danced, and eventually the mic was turned over to someone who led some caroling. Over to one side, children had the opportunity to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and get in their last-minute gift request.
During a break in the event, Taylor took a moment to comment on all that was going on and the success that it was. “The Lord provided us with great weather,” he said; it was cold, but dry. “The rest was the hard work of lots of people who genuinely care about this community and the people in it.” Taylor especially thanked the area’s Ministerial Alliance for their efforts to help with the events.
One of the highlights of the night was the marshmallow roast. Police officers stood by other volunteers handing out the treats on a stick. Then, people had a short stroll to the open fire where they could prepare them just as they liked, a light roast, charred black, or somewhere in between. It was great, and everyone seemed to be enjoying it immensely!
Batesburg-Leesville is a small town who like many, is changing, but in some ways, it remains the same. The good parts of the town, the beautiful antebellum homes, the small stores along its Main Streets, and good neighbors aren’t changing; those positive things seem to be getting better and stronger with time.
If you have a break over the holidays, drive west. Enjoy a great country meal at Shealy’s or maybe some authentic Italian at Angelo’s. Stroll Main Street and stop in Tidwell’s Jewelers, the bike shop, or some of the other stores along the sidewalks there. Browse, take your time, and enjoy. Swing over to Main Street and walk through the expansive College Park. Try to get there right at sunset so you can see the lights on the tree. I might be wrong, but I believe you’ll find yourself, if only for a moment, going back to a simpler, more peaceful time.
For more information about Batesburg-Leesville, check out the chamber’ website at http://batesburg-leesvillechamber.org/ or the town’s website at http://www.batesburg-leesville.org/.