Holiday parade a treat for onlookers in Jackson

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Jackson residents stood two and three deep along Main Street Saturday afternoon waiting for this year's version of the Christmas parade.

The theme this year was a "candyland Christmas," and onlookers were treated to plenty of the sweet stuff.

The Girl Scout troop's float was decorated with larger-than-life snow cones. Jackson's swim team built a gingerbread house and Immaculate Conception turned their float into the board game. All three were honored with awards.

But there were plenty of floats that didn't quite fit the theme.

Perched atop perhaps the most curious float was a 16-foot-long, 7-foot-high, 500-pound dragon. The dragon was built by Wesley Vaughn, a longtime employee of Associated Sheet Metal.

It was originally a birthday gift to his 13-year-old daughter. It was made of more than 1,000 pieces of metal, welded one scale at a time. He put more than 80 hours into his artwork and intends to sculpt more creatures in the future.

Perhaps no individual character stood out more, however, than the famous SpongeBob SquarePants. Mike Erzfeld and Aaron Abernathy spent many hours stuffing chicken wire with yellow tissue paper, forming the 8-foot cartoon character and SpongeBob's friend Patrick and pet snail Gary.

The Tucker family also took a cartoon approach, dressing up as "Beauty and the Beast" characters. All of the costumes and props were homemade, including a glass case that protected a rose. The glass case was made of plexiglass and an upside-down bowl.

Susan Tucker and Dianne Bowles spent three months working on the float, which won a prize in the Cape Girardeau Christmas parade.

"There were a lot of fabulous floats this year," said Beth Pry, the president of the Jackson Jaycees, which organizes the parade every year.

In all, there were 78 entries in the parade. Jackson has held the parade for at least 40 years. The Jaycees took over the parade in 1985.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

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