Christmas will be arriving in Bridge City this Saturday – and “it’s electric!”

Santa will make it official in the inaugural 2009 Christmas Lights Parade punctuating the 50th anniversary year of the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce Friday. The parade rolls out at 6 p.m. but events get rolling much earlier.

On Wednesday a POD portable container was delivered for temporary storage of Christmas toys for needy children in the area. According to Donna Scales, chairwoman, the “Stuff the POD” toy drive is underway now. When the POD is filled it will be delivered to the Bridge City-Orangefield Ministerial Alliance.

According to Sheryl Bolton, director of the alliance, many families are still struggling from Hurricane Ike and unemployment. “Nearly 700 children in the Bridge City/Orangefield area are in need of toys, shoes and clothing,” Bolton said.

The POD container was donated by Jim and Donna Wade of Port Neches, owners of PODS (Portable On Demand Storage) in Beaumont. The couple are also owners of Blockbuster in Bridge City.

“The parade and toy drive represents everything that is good about our communities,” said Scales, “It is about all of us coming together in the spirit of friendship and giving.” Co-chairing the Christmas Lights Parade with Scales are BCCC board members Becky Andrews and Ricky Land.

Many participating merchants are offering special sales as part of the chamber’s Hometown Holiday Shopping Spree. The promotion invites customers to shop Bridge City area store owners this Christmas season. Classic cars will also be on display at local businesses all over town.

Smoked hot links, boudain, cotton candy and soft drinks will be sold at the BCCC Prairie View Teacherage, 150 W. Roundbunch, at 11 a.m. Photos with Santa by photographer Adrienne Colletti will begin there at 1 p.m.

The parade route will proceed from First Baptist Church down West Roundbunch Road to Bridge City Intermediate School.

Parade dignitaries include local newsmakers and celebrities. KFDM-TV’s Ashley Rodrigue is among the panel of judges that includes Roy Dunn, publisher of The Record newspapers, and Orangefield ISD Director of Support Services, Brian Ousley.

Honored as parade marshal are the 2009 state champion Bridge City Little League All-Star baseball team. The team won the hearts of the town when the 12-year old boys advanced to the final game of the Southwest Regional tournament ending the season just one game away from the Little League World Series last fall. Their exploits where televised worldwide on ESPN.

Under the sparkle of Christmas lights the procession will feature both the Bridge City and Orangefield marching bands, cheerleaders, and dance and drill teams, the Strutters and Sophisticats. 2008

Citizen of the Year, Mayor Kirk Roccaforte, and 2008 Business of the Year Hopper Lumber Co. (Lee and Connie Angelle) are among the dignitaries to lead the parade.

A new toy is the admission price for floats in the first ever night parade in Bridge City. The toys go to needy children in the Bridge City and Orangefield areas through the Ministerial Alliance.
Parade entries will be judges in three best decorated categories; float, car/truck and walker. All entries  must be adorned in Christmas lighting. First, second and third place trophies will be awarded.

Fiftieth Anniversary commemorative coffee mugs displaying the Christmas Lights Parade emblem are on sale now at the chamber. Supply was intentionally limited to just 300. The price is $9 each or $17.50 a pair.

“For most of us last Christmas is kind of a blur,” Scales said.

In 2008 the parade route still had remnants of debris from Hurricane Ike. Most of the Christmas lights in town were found only on FEMA trailers.

“This holiday season is different,” Scales said, “We’ve come a long way in a short time and we want to celebrate that.”

Applications and guidelines can be obtained at the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce and participating locations. For more information, call Evelyn Brandon, 735-5671.