See all of the parade photos ABOVE
It was a beautiful, breezy Sunday afternoon with temperatures in the low 50s as the Murfreesboro Christmas Parade began at 2:00 o'clock Sunday afternoon (12/11/2016) on East Main Street at Middle Tennessee Boulevard. Officials say the crowds that lined East and West Main Street, especially around the historic square, were estimated to be in the 50,000 range.
The theme of this year's parade was "The Christmas Star".
MAYOR'S CUP AWARD (best overall entry): Murfreesboro City Schools Transportation
Chamber of Commerce President's Award: Dance Works
Walking Category: The Dance Academy
Scout Entry: Girl Scout Service Unit # 157
Float (Civic Organization): Stones River National Battlefield
Float (Church or School): Siegel High School CTE
Float (Business): Ruthrford County Farmers Co-Op
Horse Entry: Susan Cull
Grand Marshals were NASA Astronauts
The 2016 Grand Marshals for the Christmas Parade were Murfreesboro native Dr. Rhea Seddon, a NASA astronaut, along with her husband, fellow Astronaut Robert L. "Hoot" Gibson.
Both are very involved in the community.
Dr. Seddon recently completed a book, Go For Orbit, which is available through Amazon.
Seddon is a physician and 19-year NASA veteran, and a two-time mission specialist (1985 and 1991) and payload commander in charge of all science activities in her final space flight (1993).
The Murfresboro native is president-elect of the local Charity Circle, and she was this year's recipient of the ATHENA Award.
These days Robert L. "Hoot" Gibson spends much of his time encouraging youngsters who have an interest in flying. He is also active in the local Experimental Aircraft group. In fact, he was awarded that organization's "Freedom of Flight" Award in 1989.
Murfreesboro resident "Hoot" Gibson is a five-time NASA Shuttle astronaut, and was named to the Aviation Hall of Fame in 2013.
THANKS To Help From GREAT VOLUNTEERTS
There are several local groups and businesses that have worked together for several months creating the annual Christmas Parade. For over 30-years WGNS' has coordinated the event. Angie Walker has taken over the lead position, but her mother-in-law, Lee Ann, continues to be very involved.
There are several hundred volunteers who put in volumes of hours to make the Murfreesboro Christmas Parade happen. Instant communications between the numerous check-in locations for the different types of entries, runs like a well-oiled machine, thanks to the Rutherford County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) and the Stones River Amateur Radio Club.
Communications Coordinator Tom Delker sets-up the communications command post in front of MTSU's Parking Services Building. He explains how the two organizations help and if there have been dramatic changes in parades over the past 30-plus years . . .
In addition, the Murfreesboro Noon Exchange Club is another long time sponsor that helps with lining up the parade. Synergy Bank is in charge of walking the parade route holding a banner in front of each winning entry. They also present the trophies to the winners as the parade begins. And the most visible sponsor is ATMOS Energy who is in charge of the Santa float.
True Blue Hero: MTSU
Walker noted, "We could not do this without Middle Tennessee State University. Their law enforcement team works closely with the Murfreesboro Police to make certain that all entries have a staging area, and that the different locations merge as outlined onto East Main Street."
The Murfreesboro Police Department and Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue are stationed at intersections along the parade route to help in the event emergency traffic needs to travel through the area or a medical emergency arises.
Rutherford County Sheriffs Office' Mounted Patrol Director Jon Levi and his deputies on horseback rode alongside ATMOS Energy's "Santa Float" as well as with the numerous equestrian entries this year.
And as the 2016 parade is in the history books, the parade committee is starting plans this week for the 2017 Murfreesboro Christmas Parade that will take place at 2:00 o'clock Sunday afternoon, December 10, 2017. Put that date on your calendar, and we look forward to another page in this Christmas tradition for the Heart of Tennessee. And to all who had entries or did anything to make this year's festivities fun for everyone--THANK YOU!