‘Big effort’ revives Christmas parade

Jason Worley, 7, jumped to catch beads tossed from a float in Saturday’s Christmas parade on Railroad Avenue.

Worley came to the parade with his grandmother, Shalanda Washington, and a friend.

They watched as dancing teams, football players, floats sponsored by businesses, a car club, horses, a firetruck and a marching band rolled by, with Santa and Mrs. Claus ending the parade.

Washington, a Donaldsonville resident, said that while she was grateful Donaldsonville business owner Darryl Hambrick “saved Christmas” by organizing the parade, she missed the Christmas spirit that “parades back in the day” had in the west bank city.

Years ago, Washington said, the Donaldsonville Christmas parade included elaborate floats with riders throwing “hundreds of dollars of candy, toys and stuffed animals for the kids.”

“I’m glad he did something to get the kids excited about Christmas ... but I miss the old, big parades we used to have,” she said.

The night parades with glowing lights were Washington’s favorite.

Hambrick organized the parade in less than 30 days, he said.

After learning that no one was planning a parade this year, Hambrick said, he talked to the mayor and others about getting “something for the kids this year.”

“I’m showing them that we can do it and that with little effort you get little and with a big effort you can get something big for the residents,” he said.

In years past, Hambrick said, the Donaldsonville Area Chamber of Commerce or the city have hosted a Christmas parade.

Hambrick said he hopes a local nonprofit group or businesses take over the reins of the parade next year.

Helping Hambrick this year were members of the Street Legal Riders, a motorcycle club with members in Baton Rouge, Gonzales and St. James.

Club President Miquel Miles, a Donaldsonville native who now lives in Gonzales, said his club “wanted to do something to give back.”

“We just wanted to spread the holiday spirit,” he said.

Miles was busy after the parade organizing a party in Crescent Park.

Club volunteers served hot dogs, beverages and popcorn and helped children roast marshmallows.

He said the club raises money throughout the year “so we can do things like this for the community.”

Members of the 5 Star Divas Social Club donated several bikes for a toy giveaway. Toys collected by Hambrick and purchased by the SLR also were given away.

Children lined up at the park’s pavilion to talk to Santa and get a ticket for the drawing.

“We’re here for the kids and it looks like they’re having fun, and that’s what’s important,” Hambrick said.