Christmas on parade

Sunday, November 29, 2009
A Harley Owners Group member rides in the 2008 Parade of Lights on Broadway in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

Although there are many reasons area groups and businesses will participate in this year's downtown Parade of Lights, they possess a common desire: to give back to the community at Christmastime.

A local chapter of the Harley Owners Group, also known as SEMO HOG, has participated in float-building for the parade for more than the 10 years Steve Floyd has been a member.

He said the reason the group participates is because members want everyone to see that bikers are just other members of the community who do charity work and hope to be seen as friends.

"We aren't bad guys, and we aren't scary," Floyd said. "We are doctors, lawyers and other members of the community. We try to get involved in just about anything that has to do with the city and downtown just to show that we are here to help and will help anybody."

The group always begins building its float the Friday after Thanksgiving during the evening and continues their work into Saturday until it is finished. This year the group is using the facilities at Bluff City Beer, where several members are employed, to build the float.

"We always have a good time at it and don't make it a lot of work," Floyd said.

Floyd said this year the group will work with the parade's theme, "Christmas Magic," and are planning to use an old motorcycle that will magically transform into a new one as the float passes by. The float will also feature a karaoke singer performing Christmas songs. Last year, the group took home first prize in the parade's music category for the appearance of an Elvis impersonator perched on a blue motorcycle singing "Blue Christmas."

As they have before, group members will ride their motorcycles in the parade. Floyd said he expects a good turnout if the weather is good.

A newcomer to the Parade of Lights, Ralph Craig, owner of Riverside Remodeling and Windows, is working on a gingerbread house float with the help of his brother, other family members and employees. Craig said he liked the response of paradegoers at the SEMO District Fair parade, when his business passed out popsicles along the route, and decided to take things a step further.

Craig's float is nearing completion. The team still needs to add the lights and smoke that will billow from the chimney, making it look as if people are cooking inside.

One of the services offered by Riverside Remodeling and Windows is installation of Christmas lights and decorations on residential homes.

"I thought it would be good to get our business out there this time of year, and another thing is to give something back to the community. They have so far blessed us with five years in business that has been highly successful," Craig said.

He said his decision to participate this year was also helped by his 9-year-old daughter, who loves Christmas. She will give out candy from the front porch of the gingerbread house during the parade, with the help of Craig's young nephew. Walkers from the business will also hand out glow sticks and beaded necklaces.

Craig said the actual building of the float has been easier than he expected -- he and his brother built most of it in about six hours in a shop at his home. They used plywood, which he said was something they can reuse on a job site if needed, so nothing went to waste.

Kent Zickfield, who is working as the parade coordinator for Old Town Cape, said there are around 90 entries so far in this year's parade, but that number is fluctuating as the date draws nearer.

The annual parade is now in its 18th year. The Downtown Merchants Association originally began holding the event, and many of its members still contribute since merging with the Old Town Cape organization several years ago. Zickfield, the owner of Zickfield's Jewelry in downtown Cape Girardeau, has helped coordinate the parade for the past 11 years.

The 18th annual Parade of Lights will begin at dark today and run from Capaha Park down Broadway to the end of North Main Street.

In case of bad weather, the parade date will be moved to Dec. 6.

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