Archive for Friday, December 6, 1996

CHRISTMAS PARADE READY TO TAKE STEP BACK IN TIME

December 6, 1996

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This Saturday, Massachusetts Street will subtract a century.

If all who entered show up, 126 horse- and mule-drawn carriages, coaches and the like will roll down Lawrence's main street as part of the fourth annual Eldridge Hotel Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade.

The parade will begin at 11 a.m. in Buford M. Watson Jr. Park, between Kentucky and Tennessee streets and Sixth and Eighth streets, head east on Seventh Street and south on Massachusetts to South Park.

That the holiday gala has struck a chord is obvious. The number of entries has more than quintupled since the first parade in 1993, when there were 23 equestrian powered vehicles.

"We're tickled to death that it's happening," said Rob Phillips, general manager of the Eldridge Hotel and parade organizer. "This is a great, fun time."

Some of the more unique attractions at this year's parade are a circus bandwagon from Mound City, a fire pumper vehicle from Topeka's fire department, and a hearse from Odessa, Mo.

Groups are planning to make the trip from as far away as Coal City, Ill., outside Chicago, and Fort Worth, Tex.

Perching atop a "Landau" vehicle, Phillips will steer his Belgian horse duo of Tom and Elmer through the parade. Beverly Ray, who with Phillips owns Kansas Carriage Co., will navigate a buckboard wagon built by their friends Don and Connie Werner of Horton.

Phillips said the Werners will drive a mule-drawn covered wagon.

"We tease each other," Phillips said. "We tease them that mules are ugly, and they tease us that horses aren't as smart as mules."

A police escort will take the vehicles from the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds to Buford M. Watson Jr. Park about 10 a.m. From South Park, the caravan of vehicles will head back to the fairgrounds after the parade.

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