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Folks began lining up early to claim their vantage point along Jefferson Street. Some brought lawn chairs and relaxed with the family while awaiting the 1 o’clock start of the march through town.
Led by Ava Police Chief Reggie Johnson and the American Legion Color Guard, the parade included Grand Marshal Norma Stillings, the 2011 recipient of the John Dickison Award, along with floats, classic cars, horses, a large fleet of Ava City Utilities vehicles, and of course fire trucks.
Homecoming and Douglas County Fair royalty, Miss Merry Christmas, and Little Miss and Master Merry Christmas were among those riding in the parade. The Ava Bears and Lady Bears basketball teams also participated, along with the Ava High School marching band.
Announced on the square at the end of the parade were money winners in the float competition.
The Ozark Frontier Girls took the grand prize of $500 and Heart of the Ozarks Healthcare claimed the first place prize money of $200. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) took second place and $100 and Emerson Climate Technology-Green Team took third place and $50.
Crowned Little Miss Merry Christmas on the square Friday night at the Friday Night Frolic was Brandi Frost and Crowned Master Merry Christmas was Wyatt Johnson. Both are first graders at Ava Elementary School.
Winner of the business storefront decorating contest in Independent Copy Center.
Winners in the decorated automobile judging were: 1st place John Sutton; 2nd, Mandy Jones-Family Pharmacy; and 3rd, Bill Healey of B.A.C.A.
Winning horse entries were: 1st, Bud Clinkingbeard; 2nd, Ashley Hicks; and 3rd, Hershell Letsinger.
Winners in the 4-wheelers were: 1st, Mike Burris, Heart of the Ozarks Healthcare; 2nd, Larry Hutchison; and 3rd place, Ava Community Kids.
Billie Weaver, representing the American Red Cross, gave away hot chocolate on the square during and following the parade, and Kent Edge, Emergency Management director for West Plains, gave tours of the Region G mobile communications unit that was parked on the square.
Judy Shields, executive director of the Ava Area Chamber of Commerce, termed the parade a huge success and expressed appreciation to all who worked together to make the annual event possible.
Numerous groups came together on a frigid Friday night for the Frolic on the square, including the Ava High School jazz band directed by Chris and Sarah Sacco, and the high school chamber choir directed by Michelle Wolfskill.