By Callie Hietala
Nine-year-old Axton Elementary student Jaxon Harris will be the grand marshal at this year’s Martinsville-Henry County Christmas parade.
Earlier this year, the third grader was struck by an oncoming vehicle while getting off the school bus on September 23.
Since the incident, the Harris has been recovering from a brain stem bleed, multiple lacerations, and a right femur that was broken in three places. Though he still has lingering concussion symptoms, his neck injury has healed, and his neck brace was recently removed.
Harris’ stepfather, Brandon Stanley, said the youngster was excited to learn that he would be leading the parade.
After two years of event cancellations and pandemic-related scaling back, the parade is returning in full force.
The annual kickoff to the holiday season will take place on Saturday, November 20 beginning at 5 p.m. in Uptown Martinsville. Parade organizers are still seeking participants to create a float (or two) to include in this year’s festivities.
Star News’ Charles Roark, who is coordinating the parade, said that the theme for this year is “Let it Snow.” Three snow machines will be on hand to provide the appropriate wintery atmosphere along parts of the parade route.
“A parade is a sense of how the community’s doing,” Roark said. Especially considering the pandemic and recent election – and reversion-related tensions between residents – he hopes that this year’s event will help to unify the community.
“It’s time to put a crazy two years behind us and start fresh,” he said. “I want to see the community come together.”
Roark said that marching bands from Bassett, Magna Vista, and Martinsville high schools will participate, and several fan-favorite float creators will be returning to this year’s lineup.
Organizers are seeking more entries, he said, and added that prizes awarded to the best floats.
The $50 entry fee helps cover insurance and other costs associated with the event, Roark said, and added that nonprofits may participate for free. Additionally, he will work with others who cannot afford the fee.
To participate in this year’s parade, call (276) 656-3900 or find Martinsville Henry County Christmas Parade on Facebook.