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Local troops to be honored at parade

COVINGTON - The Covington Lions Club and Main Street Covington invite the community to celebrate the season and honor U.S. troops with family and friends at the annual Christmas Parade set for 11 a.m. Dec. 6.

More than 150 floats and entries representing schools, churches, civic groups, businesses, clubs, Scout troops and more will meet at Sharp Middle School and the YMCA on Newton Drive and make the 1.2-mile trek around the Covington Square and back, delighting crowds along the parade route. Newton County's three high school marching bands will provide music during the parade.

"Last year, we asked subdivisions and families to join us with an entry - the invitation is still there," Lions member Doreen Stallworth said.

Judging and awards based on the theme of the parade, "Celebrate the Season and Salute the Troops," will be presented before the parade begins at the line-up site. The award for the "Overall Best Entry" is announced and presented as the winning float passes the parade review stand on the Square in front of the historic Covington Courthouse.

First and second place awards will be presented for each of the following categories: High School, Middle School, Elementary School, Preschools/Daycares, Churches, Civic Clubs, Boy and Girl Scouts, Corporate and Business and Family/Subdivision. There are also awards for the Horse entries including tack, costume, etc.

Stallworth said this year is very special because the parade is saluting the armed forces.

"Lions will be saluting our National Guard, as they will be deployed overseas next year," she said. "They will lead our parade, and their families will have a special viewing location on the Square."

Also featured will be the U.S. Army Quintet, performing on the Square before the beginning of the parade.

Applications to participate in the parade are available at www.covingtonlions.org under "Christmas Parade," or interested parties should call Main Street Covington at 770-385-2077 or 770-385-6697. Applications can also be obtained at Mayfield's, Ludies, The Center, The Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce and Touch of Country.

Forms should be completed and sent to Covington Lions Club, P.O. Box 829, Covington, GA 30015.

All entries must be decorated with a Christmas theme. Only one additional vehicle per float will be permitted.

The Lions will be collecting used eyeglasses, hearing aids and cell phones at their booth on the Square the day of the parade. The Lions will also hold their White Cane event - an effort to assist the Newton County resident in need of sight care.

The Georgia Lighthouse Foundation is a service project of the Lions Club of Georgia. Founded in 1949, the Lighthouse provides vision and hearing services for Georgia residents who have no other place to turn for help.

In 2006, the Lions of Georgia raised $167,000 during the White Cane campaign. During that year, 170 eye surgeries were performed. Last year, 306 eye surgeries were performed.

"Based on these facts, 2009 will be even more demanding," Stallworth said. "We are asking for your help. Covington Lions will be in a cart riding up and down the parade route before the parade begins collecting any monetary assistance you can lend toward this major effort."