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Boykin Christmas Parade fired up for second shotgun wedding

Posted: December 6, 2011 3:23 p.m.
Updated: December 7, 2011 5:00 a.m.

When Deirdra Young and Jody Atkinson, longtime sweethearts, heard broadcaster Dave McIntosh on KOOL 102.7 FM announce that the Shotgun Wedding Committee was looking for volunteers to be married during the annual Boykin Country Christmas Parade, Deirdra shouted, “That’s us!”

“We’ve known each other for 15 years and decided to get married about only five months ago,” said Jody.

“They call us “The Marquest Couple,” Deirdra, a Camden resident, added. “That’s because I work at Markette in Lugoff and Jody works at the Carquest Auto Parts.”

“This shotgun wedding is actually the second time a couple has been married during the parade,” said Alice Boykin, the parade founder, “But last year the wedding couple was married at the Swift Creek Church before the Parade started. This will be the first time the bride and groom will pronounce their vows on the float. Spread the word. The wedding alone will be worth coming to Boykin.”

The bride has a few surprises in store for parade goers and will reveal only that everyone on the wedding float, including her mother, Judy Young, her daughter, Jennifer Walsh, Jennifer’s two children, Aaliyah Walsh, 5, and Tyler Harris, 3, and Jody’s two sons, will be wearing tie dye. The bride’s ex-husband, Jim Walsh, will give her away -- or maybe he won’t.

“The jury is still out on that,” said Deirdra.

The Best Man will be Jody’s friend, Sonny Williams, son of Buckshot Williams and in addition to Jennifer Walsh, the other Maid of Honor will be Kristi Littlejohn. Jim Crissman, Justice of the Peace, will pronounce the vows.

The couple promises that the Shotgun Wedding will definitely feature a shotgun, but won’t say any more about it.

“Wait and see,” said Deirdra.

“The best part is, we’ll come back every year for our anniversary,” promised Jody.

The 18th country Christmas parade

Alice Boykin, Goz Segars and Wayne Belger, the organizing committee of the Boykin Christmas Parade, announce the 18th parade Sunday afternoon, Dec. 18, at 2 p.m.

“The parade is open to everyone, so get your group together and join us for a wonderful time,” said Boykin of the popular event, widely considered the largest Christmas parade in the South.

As she always does, Alice Boykin credits everyone but herself for her extraordinary achievement, the favorite event of the year for many area residents.

Boykin also wants to make sure that everyone knows that once again, Rowland Alston will serve as commentator and Bertha Thompson will bring her gospel choir to the Swift Creek church for the free concert afterwards.

Plan to arrive early

Hank Kerfoot, a 10-year parade organizer, CEO of longtime sponsor Modern Turf, urges parade goers to “plan on arriving early to get some barbecue. Local restaurants and vendors like Smokin’ & Grillin’, the Boykin Grille, and the Mill Pond Steak House will be open for business, and in addition to feeding the parade volunteers, the Boykin Volunteer Firefighters will be selling barbecue plates with chili, collard greens, cornbread, and sweet tea. Sounds good.”

Kerfoot said, “We encourage creativity and individuality and urge you to keep away from commercialism while emphasizing the ‘Spirit of Boykin.’ That spirit reflects the original farmers’ parade created on a whim 18 years ago. We do request that everyone bring their Christmas Spirit and have fun! Music is always welcome and encouraged.”

Wayne Belger, parade organizer points out that groups of cars, go-carts and horses will not be viewed favorably unless they incorporate a country Christmas theme. “Entries should include farm equipment, references to local agricultural products and practices.”
 Parade enthusiasts await the Collard Queen and the Fatback Queen, and once again, Santa Claus will make a surprise entrance. In previous years Santa has ridden in on a steer, a combine, a manure spreader, a forklift, a fire engine, and a helicopter -- and once even parachuted into the parade.

Aside from the Shotgun Wedding, this year’s parade will welcome back the Kellytown Kazoo Band, the Kellytown Kids Train, The South Carolina Donkey and Mule Association, former Governor and Mrs. David Beasley, Old McCaskill’s Farm, llamas pulling carts, and about 60 other floats.

“This year’s Grand Marshal will be the great Sibby Wood,” said Kerfoot.

Food stations will be set up along the parade route, as well as in front of the Boykin Grille and the Mill Pond Restaurant. The broom shop with its country gift items will also be open for business. After the parade, a gospel choir will perform for the public at the Swift Creek Church. Admission is free.

Traffic Flow

The committee recommends that parade-goers arrive well before 1:30 p.m. in order to get a good parking place and to buy some lunch.

On parade day, approved entries will approach the parade staging area from U.S. 521 via Swift Creek Road or Boykin Mill Road at U.S. 521. The entries are asked to observe the red and yellow directional signs along the highways. All entries will be assigned a number. Upon arrival, each entry will park on the road shoulder at their designated number. All entries must be ready to proceed when their number is called. Staff will not be able to change parade order at start time, or, for that matter, not be able to add entries on parade day. No riding up and down the street before or after the parade will be permitted. All entries should operate in a safe manner at all times. Entrants agree that the parade committee and directors are not responsible for any accidents or injuries that may occur before, during or after the parade.

Proceed with caution

Because of increasing liability issues, the parade committee cautions that parking will be allowed only in designated/marked areas with no overnight camping allowed. Furthermore, RVs and large camper vehicles will not be permitted along the parade route. Parents and adults are responsible for all children under 14 and should not leave minor children unattended at any time.

Fires of any kind will not be permitted due to fire hazard. Spectators may not enter any closed/gated/other-designated areas and are asked to stay off the road surface during the parade to permit room for parade entries and to avoid accidents.

As in years past, personal four-wheelers and golf carts will not be permitted on the site unless they are part of a float. If they are, they must remain in the line-up position at all times and may not cruise the parade route prior to the parade.

Again, because of liability and safety issues, the practice of throwing objects, such as candy and toilet paper, into the crowd is prohibited. The parade organizers don’t want children running out into floats and especially not into horses. Anyone wanting to distribute these items, especially candy, needs to have someone on the ground handing out the items to keep spectators from walking onto the road, thus reducing the chances of accidents.

For assistance on parade day, check with the parade staff, the State Guard and Kershaw or Sumter County sheriff’s deputies.

Applications

The Parade Committee reviews every application. If they judge an application to be lacking the “Spirit of Boykin,” the committee will return it with suggestions for improvements.

For those wishing to participate in the parade, download the parade website: www.theboykinparade.com for the Application and the Letter of Inquiry. Also, check Facebook: The Boykin Christmas Parade.

Entry form applications must be completed and either faxed or mailed to the parade office for an entry to be considered and approved. The fax number is printed on the entry form. All entries must be approved by 5 p.m. Dec. 16.

For more information, contact Wayne Belger at rw_belger@bellsouth.net or fax to: (803) 713-0473. You may also call Boykin Farm at (803) 424-4731 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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