If Santa Claus needs a pair of spectacles this holiday season, he’ll certainly be in the right place during the LaGrange Christmas Parade, set for 6 p.m. on Dec. 4.
This year’s event will be grand marshaled by noted local optometrist Dr. Cliff Rainey, who has been a staple in Troup County for more than 60 years.
The parade is organized by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, and volunteers from West Georgia Health will act as “parade elves” during the event.
Rainey, born April 21, 1930, graduated from North Fulton High School, attending Emory University in Atlanta and the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. He then served at the Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, now the Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center, in Aurora, Colorado, before arriving in LaGrange in 1954 to set up his practice.
Rainey founded the LaGrange Eye Clinic, and, to the betterment of Troup County, never went anywhere else.
“Dr. Rainey is a true leader in LaGrange, someone who cares about everyone,” said LeTisha Smith, the Chamber’s director of programs and events. “He is truly deserving of being grand marshal.”
Along with serving the community as an optometrist, Rainey has been an advocate for non-profit groups throughout his life. He is the oldest living chairman of the Chamber, having been chair of the Chamber Board of Directors in 1965; has been in leadership positions in the Chattahoochee Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Georgia Optometric Association, and helped revamp the Salvation Army’s prominence throughout the county.
In fact, for some time, he served as the local Salvation Army, assisting stranded drivers, sharing food with the hungry and providing places to sleep for the homeless and unemployed. He has provided free eye examinations for Salvation Army clients with vision problems and partnered with the local Lions Club to pay for glasses for those in need.
He was recently honored with the Lifetime Advisory Board Member Award for his work through the LaGrange branch of the Salvation Army, providing a tangible reminder of the support and care he has provided for decades.
The Christmas season is yet another reminder of his work with the Salvation Army. Bell ringers, coin collectors and Santa Clauses in disguise sit at store corners across the county, in a way, because of Dr. Rainey’s sacrifices.
“I would be honored,” Rainey said as, with tears in his eyes, he graciously accepted being honored as grand marshal.
Parade participants will be asked to contribute an unwrapped Christmas toy in addition to the $35 registration fee. All toys will be given to local agencies to help make the holidays extra special for those in need.
Parade applications are available online at the Chamber’s website, lagrangechamber.com. Applications are due to the Chamber office by 5 p.m. on Nov. 21.