By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
It’s likely the entire city of Portales will be looking for a sprig of mistletoe Friday night. That’s when the holiday season gets its kickoff with the Christmas Light Parade and the Little Miss Merry Christmas contest.
The evening begins with music by Steve Davis’ band Master Works at 6 p.m. on the south side of the Roosevelt County Courthouse.
At 6:30 p.m. the parade, led by Santa Claus on a fire truck, begins. This year, for the first time, the parade will begin at the Portales Recreation Center parking lot at 18th Street and Avenue I. From there it will proceed east on 18th, then north on Avenue D and east again on Second Street. The parade then circles the square to First Street and disbands at the C&S parking lot at First and Avenue B.
“We just thought it would make it longer,” Chamber Executive Director Sharon King said. “It will also be easier to organize out at the Recreation Center than it is in the True Value parking lot where they’re trying to do business.”
King says the parade normally has 20 to 25 entries that employ a variety of methods for lighting and decorating the floats and vehicles.
“By being at night and being lit, it just takes on a whole different personality than other parades,” King said.
Once the parade disbands, the festivities continue with more Christmas music on the square and the crowning of Little Miss Merry Christmas.
Six girls between the ages of 4 and 10 are vying for the title this year. Besides giving the girls an opportunity to dress up and be on stage, the contest also raises funds for the Portales Christmas lighting program. The candidate who raises the most money is crowned.
The money is used to buy the lighting on Portales businesses on which the Rotary Club hangs and provides upkeep.
Lindsey Golden, who was Little Miss Merry Christmas in 1992, says she still has her sash and crown and this year her 5-year-old daughter Madison Golden will be a contestant.
“It was like my night to be a princess,” recalls Golden. “When I told her (Madison) I was Little Miss Merry Christmas she was excited to do it.”
Awards will go to each of the contestants in the pageant. The parade features traveling plaque awards in various categories.