Christmas parade, on the way
By BY LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
Saturday will be one of the days that little children look forward to, because the Christmas Parade is scheduled to be in downtown Brewton.
Parades are enjoyed all during the year, but the Christmas Parade has that little something extra, especially for the children. Santa will arrive at the end of the parade and the children will know that the big night can't be too far away.
But parades don't just happen. There is a a lot of thought and energy put into something that only lasts a short time.
The Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce is responsible for organizing and putting everything together to make it a happy event.
Dr. Jeff Williams is the president of the Chamber this year and although he says he doesn't do very much, the success of the event is on his shoulders.
The parade plans begin in September, and about the middle of October letters are sent to those who participated in last year's parade. There are some rules that apply to entering a float or group in the parade. Although there is not a theme, each entry has to pertain to Christmas in some way. No one else may have a Santa on their float; candy is to be thrown away from the float and onto the sidewalk; each float has to be registered with the Chamber; each float can have one additional vehicle and it can be towed or put on a flatbed truck. Each entry has to also sign a release form before it is allowed in the parade.
The total number of prizes depends on the number of entries. If six or less floats are entered, there will be cash prizes of $300, $200 and $100. If there are more than six entries, there will be an additional $100 prize. Those winners will be judged on difficulty, imagination, attention to detail, recognition of the Christmas theme, overall appearance and costumes. They get bonus points for the use of electricity, handmade decorations and costumes and moving parts.
The parade this year will line up in East Brewton on Shoffner Street. It will come down Forest Avenue, over the bridge on Mildred Street, across the railroad tracks onto St. Joseph to Belleville, and will disband on the side streets of McLellan, Rankin and Granberry.
It takes organization to put everything together and pull it off every year, but the Chamber works really hard and each year it has become bigger and better.
Jeff Williams was born in Mobile to Jack and Norvelle Williams. His dad was working at International Paper there at the time, and later came to Brewton to work at what was then Container Corporation.
Williams and his brother and sister were raised in the Brewton area and he attended Mrs. Peavy's kindergarten.
He attended Brewton Elementary, Brewton Middle and T.R. Miller High where he played football, participated in track and played in the band. He was also a charter member of the high school choir.
He worked at Medical Center Pharmacy during high school and the next two years while he attended Jefferson Davis College. He even continued to work there on the co-op plan after he became a student at Auburn University.
He did begin Auburn thinking he would be an engineer, but then changed to pre-optometry. He graduated from Auburn in 1986 and entered the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the School of Optometry. He graduated in 1991 and worked in Auburn, Chattanooga and Birmingham for the next two years.
Williams stayed at Thomasville for about four years and met his wife there. He married Ina Hornbeak, who was also working at WalMart, in 1998. She was from Fairhope and he considered opening a practice in Fairhope but Dr. Linder called and wanted him to come back to Brewton and take over the business.. They moved back to Brewton in 1999 and Dr. Linder stayed only a few more months before he sold the business to Williams. That is when the name was changed to Brewton Family Eyecare.
The oldest child, Addison Browne, is nine and was from his wife's first marriage. They also have Sidney who is five and twins, Jackson and Jacob, who will soon turn three.
The Williams family got involved in Brewton and its activities.
He is a member of North Brewton Baptist Church and was a part of Leadership Class of 2002.
He became a member of the Chamber of Commerce and was soon nominated to be on the board and is now the president of the organization. They are responsible for the Blueberry Festival and the Christmas Parade.
The Chamber is responsible for the Citizen of the Year banquet. It is an advocate for business and the promotion of commerce. They don't recruit businesses, but they do help with industrial development.
Jeff Williams is a busy man. He says that between work and kids he doesn't have much time to be involved in much, but he does like to do woodwork.