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hristmas lights, luminaries and the of time and detail put into them.” a December 6th tree lighting, festival
sites and sounds of holiday parades The most famous Cabarrus County float of lights and luminary sale along with
tie times gone by with those to come. As is Kannapolis’ Possum Float. In Drye’s 20 a new tradition- the Winterland Express
they have for generations, the annual years of working with the parades, the Train that will run in Village Park through
Christmas parades will take place in December.
their respective downtowns; Concord
on November 22 at 2:30 pm and Those To Come
Kannapolis on December 13 at 6 pm. Concord’s Christmas
Both parades were originally started parade will follow the
by merchants’ associations. According traditional route from
to Brenda Drye, executive director Church Street and Lake
of Cabarrus Events Association, the Concord Road and end
Concord parade is an 80-year-old at East Union and Corban
tradition. The first mention of the Streets. In Kannapolis, this
Kannapolis parade is found in a 1936 year’s Christmas parade
newspaper, making it at least 69 years will follow the usual route
old. from Dale Earnhardt
Boulevard and S. Main
Times Gone By Street through downtown,
Kannapolis native Martha Macon, Possum Float, she said, is talked about ending at First and Main Streets in view
whose family owns Kannapolis Real every year. Macon remembers the float of the newly opened NCRC facilities.
Estate, has never missed a Christmas being a highlight of the parade in the Former Kannapolis Mayor and United
parade. Her memories of the parade 1940s and early 1950s. Methodist Minister, Ray Moss was born
cross the generations of her family. “We always looked forward to the in Kannapolis in 1930. He remembers the
“We’d always watch the Christmas parade itself and seeing the Possum Float. downtown landscape in his childhood.
Parade from the upstairs at Aunt Pearl’s,” Several hunters with their dogs barking “I’d walk up First Street to high school,”
Macon said. “She had a lovely mill (were on the float) with possums up in he said. “I went to elementary school
house on Main Street directly across from these big branches that looked like trees,” at McIver, which was behind where the
the train station. She’d have refreshments Macon said. “We always went to see the police parked their cars. When I would
for us and we’d watch it from the two Carver High School Band. They always walk up there, all you could see were the
upstairs bedrooms. We loved having that had a lot of action. You always looked smokestacks and the mill. The YMCA hall
part of Christmas with her.” for the A.L. Brown float because they where the teachers boarded was on Oak
After her aunt died, Macon’s family ushered in Santa Claus.” Avenue. It was called Oak Street in those
watched the parade on Main Street. Other Kannapolis Christmas traditions days. It’s all gone, and now the campus
“Dad took the car and parked it right included Cannon Mills’ lighted displays is there. One of these days all the new
where the Old Durham has been moved. in the lake and around the water with buildings will be there. We’re a growing
He’d go by the Gem Theater and get a larger-than-life, lighted cannon and city.”
a bunch of popcorn for us.” In later soldiers. “We always liked riding around Moss feels fortunate that he’s seen
years, Macon watched her own children town, and seeing the lights and the floats Kannapolis transform throughout his
march in the parade. “I’ve never missed in the lake,” Macon said. “The Pilot lifetime. In the 1950s, Charles Cannon,
the Christmas Parade, it is just such a Club luminaries were around the water. son of Cannon Mills founder James
tradition,” she said. You’d pay a nominal amount and put Cannon, expanded the mill. “This (David
With 150 to 200 entries per year, the someone’s name on one in their honor Murdock’s) vision happens before your
parades encompass every aspect of the or memory. We’d drive or walk slowly eyes daily,” Moss said. “When Cannon
community-churches, scout troops, beauty around the lake to see whose names Mills in the 1950s added on, that vision
pageant winners, schools and marching were on the luminaries.” changed everyday. It’s absolutely
bands. They also capture people’s The tradition was later moved to amazing what’s been there and torn
creativity and ingenuity. In Macon’s day, Veterans Park. With construction of down and rebuilt again in my lifetime.”
all of the floats were homemade. Today, the North Carolina Research Campus “I find it incredible that the vision J.W.
some organizations rent professional (NCRC) both traditions have now Cannon had is very similar in scope to
floats. Drye estimates there will be 18 in been moved to Village Park and are what Murdock has,” Macon said. “In
Concord and several in Kannapolis, but sponsored by the Kannapolis Parks and one hundred years the transformations
most are still homemade floats “with a lot Recreation Department. They are hosting have been amazing. Really, (the NCRC)
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