‘This night is a community effort’: Arley enjoys Christmas parade, soup social

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Bethel Baptist Church presented a living nativity scene on its float in Wednesday night’s Christmas parade in Arley. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

ARLEY, Ala. – It was a perfect night for a parade Wednesday as the town of Arley came together to celebrate the kickoff of the Christmas season. The Grinch was there, but he, too, joined in and was on his best behavior. The Arley Women’s Club, local churches and the Town of Arley worked together to organize this year’s parade and second annual soup social directly following the parade. 

The parade featured several surprise guests, including the aforementioned Grinch, Buddy the Elf, Smokey the Bear and, of course, Santa Claus, who brought along Mrs. Claus and a group of his best elves. 

Ms. Super Senior Universe 2018 Sally Beth Vick also participated. Vick was exquisite in her holiday red sparkling crown. She will travel Sunday to Las Vegas to crown the new Ms. Super Senior USA. 

In the heart of the parade was the true reason for the celebration as Bethel Baptist Church presented a living nativity. The float featuring Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus in the manger was easily the masterpiece of the night’s festivities. 

Santa Claus and his North Pole delegation were proudly escorted through the town by the Arley, Helicon, Addison and Ashridge Volunteer Fire Departments and other first responders. 

At the conclusion of the parade, the community retreated from the chilly night and came together for a hot bowl of soup. The Meek Elementary School gym welcomed everyone with more than 20 crock pots of homemade soups, stews and chili. 

Cindy Bryant and Kate Kelley with the Arley Women’s Club were hard at work making sure the night of community and fellowship ran smoothly. Members of the local churches prepared the delicious variety of soups.

Bryant said, “We have decided to continue having the parade on Wednesday night. This is our church service for everyone and a great time for the community to come together.” 

Having the parade and soup social on a weeknight also avoids conflict with neighboring cities and towns that typically schedule parades on the weekends.

Bryant stressed, “This night is a community effort. So many individuals, churches, businesses and groups work together to make it all happen.”

Beth McLarty and Candy Newman served as co-chairs for this year’s parade and are both members of the Arley Women’s Club.

McLarty said, “We just love doing what we are doing and being part of the community. Seems like the soup thing is just awesome! It works out so good.”

Santa and Mrs. Claus stayed for a nice bowl of soup and to visit with the kids. Meek Baptist Church took photos of the children and Santa. Thanks to local Santa helper, Mike Markham, each child received a Beanie Baby. While Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted and listened to the children’s wishes for Christmas, the elves were spotted enjoying free ice cream and cookies. 

The Arley First Baptist Church Praise Choir will present The Living Christmas Tree program “We Sing Noel” this Sunday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. They choir will also perform its program Monday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. 

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com