(PNJ.com) - Is the Chumuckla Redneck Christmas Parade getting too big-city uppity for its Lee britches?
I mean, what gives? Santa's throwing out candy canes instead of Slim Jims? And he's riding in the back of a fire truck, not a turnip truck?
It's supposed to be Chumuckla, not Macy's.
No worries, though. The Chumuckla Redneck Christmas Parade might be a little more refined these days than at its start 18 years ago, but there's still plenty of redneck fun to be had. And fire truck or not, you can bet Redneck Santa will be sporting some type of camouflage. And, naturally, the grand marshall is a bail bondsman (Matt Howard).
The 18th annual Chumuckla Redneck Christmas Parade takes place at 1 p.m. Saturday in downtown Chumuckla - Population: Sometimes.
And one of those times is parade day, when the rural farm community swells to welcome more than 15,000 visitors to its tractor-worn streets.
Kelly Enfinger, one of the organizers, expects more than 100 parade entries. And don't expect cuddly elves.
"One that stands out in my mind is a lady a few years ago," said Enfinger, treasurer of the Chumuckla Athletic Association, which organizes the parade. "She was pregnant, had her hair in rollers and had beer cans. That kind of stood out." (And no, she wasn't a spectator. She was a parade "exhibit.")
The idea of the parade came nearly two decades ago when supporters of the Athletic Association watched a couple of pickup trucks honking horns in Chumuckla and thought it might be the start of something.
It started something, all right. Now, venture north and you'll see decorated outhouses and bug zappers, beer can ornaments, elves missing teeth, men dressed as pregnant women. All the things one normally associates with Christmas, right?
"I've been a few times, and I love it," said Martha Burroughs, 44, of Pensacola. "It's a riot. We put on our camo and our (University of) gear and we fit right in."
The parade begins at the Cotton Gin on Chumuckla Springs Road/Gin Road, then crosses Chumuckla Highway and ends at Salter Road.
The parade has gained national attention in recent years, appearing in numerous travel publications and a feature on CNN.
But despite the unusual nature of the parade, it's not just a redneck hootenanny. Proceeds from the parade entry fees and on-site sales are used to buy Christmas presents for children in need. Last year, parade officials purchased gifts for more than 50 children.
And look for futureparades to become
even more "rednecky," harkening back to the parade's early years when organizers held contests to coincide with the parade, such as the Turnip Chunking contest, when children threw turnips at race car tires, and the Goat Tagging and Women's Frying Pan Toss contests.
"We're working to get back to that," Enfinger said. "Next year, we expect to bring back the contests."