BY DAN WHITTLE
There's something magical about a parade ... especially the historic annual Lions Club Christmas Parade that winds its way through hearts of so many people lining the streets along its route through downtown Woodbury.
The recent Saturday community-wide celebration was complete with children, parade floats, proud parents and grandparents, more children, candy, flags and even more children voicing thousands of shout-outs of "Merry Christmas" for jolly ol' Santa Claus' ears to hear.
Veteran parade tyke Bradyn Nelson could be heard boldly voicing from his parade wagon - "Merry Kissmess" - toward the legions of parade watchers from his parade wagon perch as his mother, Michelle, and siblings Clay and Sydney tossed candy to parade watchers.
Maybe due to the tragic smoke-filled sky over East Tennessee, Santa didn't bring Rudolph, his lead reindeer whose nose was already red.
However, there were antique cars, trucks, mules, horses and jackasses galore, community fire trucks that helped Santa run his joy-filled route from the Cannon County Fairgrounds out to Highway 70S, due east toward the historic pristine-kept Cannon County Courthouse before making a right turn toward Manchester.
Mule Skinner Grady George had a nice-looking pair of mules and a pretty lady in his wagon, who looked young enough from a distance, to be his daughter.
One can meet the nicest Americans at Woodbury Christmas Parade, as evidenced by church-goers Valery and Gene Shaver, who braved the cold along the parade route to represent the "Christian" aspect of the Christmas season.
One of parade watcher Laila Manuel Simpson's claims to fame... she is the granddaughter to Dorothy "Ma - Ma" and the late great Abraham Manuel (Cajun musicians) who operated Manuel's Cajun Restaurant (formerly Cherry's Grocery) for several years in downtown Milton.
The parade route was where I met "Hank," mannerly parade dog ... and a number of spruced up horses that left a few "calling cards" piled along U.S. Route 70S.
But not mules named "Cindy" and "Sue"!: "Our mules are potty-trained," clarified Cindy "Mule Princess" Odle and namesake of the mule named "Cindy."
I'm glad the mule woman "cleared the air" about her well-mannered potty-trained parade mules ...
Brag-ging can be expected behavior in Woodbury's historic and growing Christmas Parade ...
"Our mules don't require turn signals," mule man Jeff (Gee Haw) Odle added. "See ol' Cindy, our lead mule up in front of our wagon, she wags her biggo left ear when we're approaching the need to make a left turn."
How much do newlyweds Cindy and Jeff Odle love a parade?
"Throughout the year, we easily attend 20 parades," Cindy said, as she reined in her two-year old mules. "It has taken several years for the Bilbrey-Robbins-Odle partnership to earn the trust of organi-zations to use our wagons and our calm, large and people-friendly mules."
"I think we had one or two jackasses here today," confirmed bona fide Middle Tennessee Mule Skinner in semi-good standing Danny Fraley as he steered two white spotted horse mules along the parade route.
"It's obvious our mules are not potty-trained," Mule Man Fraley shared with mule owner Coy "Boy" Ricketts, another member of Middle Tennessee Mule Skinners based in Woodbury.
"This year's parade had a lot more floats, parade wagons and whopping bigger numbers of spectators along the parade route," Fraley added.
Writer's Note: (As a gnarled aged newspaperman, I've covered hundreds of parades down through the decades ... but as a participant, it had been 56 years since I marched with my high school band while toting and beating on the biggo bass drum that seemed to draw the pretty attention of the pretty girls along the route.
"It was a huge honor for Patricia and I to be hosted by Jeff and Cindy Odle to ride in their super deluxe and decorated parade wagon to promote our newest book - "Music City: Talent Behind The Stars." Cindy is the gifted computer-design-editor who made our book look very good for the reading public.
The book is available at the historic Cannon Courier newspaper office and at www.whittlemania.com.