Annual Christmas parade planned next Tuesday

The Gray Jaycees will usher in Santa and the Christmas season in Jones County with their annual Christmas parade next week.

The parade is scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 13, with a rain date of Dec. 14. The route begins at Ingles and continues up Gray Highway to the Gray Station Depot. This year’s theme is ‘A Candy Christmas’ and it has 70 entries. 

Parade coordinator Nickie Rentz said Jones County Headstart, Gray Elementary School, and Jones County Transportation have floats, and it would not be a parade without the Jones County High School Marching Band.

Prizes will be awarded for first-, second-, and third-place winners, and the judges for the event are Larry and Sheila Horne from Eatonton and Louise VanDamn from Marietta. The judge coordinator is Saundra Jackson of Eatonton.

This year’s grand marshal is Jones County High School varsity football coach Justin Rogers, who has been at JCHS for three years. Rogers and his wife Melissa have two children, Sarah Coleman, 11, and Cooper, who is almost a year old. 

The coach is originally from Greenville, Alabama, and moved to Georgia to start his teaching and coaching career. Before moving to Jones County, he lived in Columbus, where he coached at Harris High School, and in Griffin, where he was the offensive coordinator at Griffin High School. 

In 2013, before leaving Griffin, the high school won the AAAA GHSA State Championship in football. 

The first year as head coach for the Greyhounds, the team had a 10-3 record and made it to the Elite Eight in the playoffs. That set a record for the best season in the school’s history. 

“I was honored with the Middle Georgia Coach of the Year from the Macon Touchdown Club and Citizen of the Year from Jones County Chamber of Commerce,” he said.  

The team finished out the season in 2015 with a 9-2 record, making the state playoffs, and co-region champions next to Northside High School and Houston County High School.

This year, the team has made it to the state playoffs for the third consecutive year, made it to the Sweet 16, and finished with an 8-4 record.  

“These past three years we have worked on getting our players involved in the community to show them how important it is to give back to those who have given so much to them. This past season we were very fortunate in being able to team up with Jay’s Hope and raise awareness for childhood cancer along with our Pink Out nights and giving back to Relay For Life,” Rogers said. “Our players have been out to several of the schools in the community mentoring and reading to our future Greyhounds. We have also been able to include our Youth Football Leagues into the halftime show on two of our Friday night games.” 

The first Gray’s Jaycee Christmas Parade was held in 2001 and had the theme ‘A Patriotic Christmas.’ Over the past 16 years, the parade has become a tradition to officially begin the Christmas season. The first event was planned by the Jaycees to say thank you to the community for being so supportive as part of the organization’s 10th anniversary celebration. 

-- Debbie Lurie-Smith | debbie@jcnews.com

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The Jones County News

P.O. Box 1538
Gray, GA 31032
(478) 986-3929

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