With all of the planned activities around here, it would be pretty hard not to be in the holiday mood. LaGrange definitely has it “going on” for the Christmas season.
With Thursday night’s tree lighting being the finishing touch, Downtown LaGrange is gloriously festooned for the city’s Christmas activities. Store fronts, churches and even Lafayette Square are all decorated with bright red ribbons, garland and shiny gold and silver ornaments. Private organizations, churches, schools, the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority and the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce have all expertly planned events that are meant to bring the joy and excitement of the season to the LaGrange community.
This is also the time of the year when you hear stories of individuals who go out of their way to fulfill the needs, dreams and wishes of others. From the Samaritan’s Purse shoebox project for needy children (Lafayette Christian School is the collection site), to the Marine Corps League’s Toys for Tots that the Georgia State Patrol is helping with this year, to the cans of soup and food items that civic groups are collecting for the local food pantries, everyone is pitching in. Thursday night, as I was standing on the steps of LaGrange High School ready to record the winning results for this year’s Christmas parade, a young woman told me one of the most touching and inspirational stories that I have heard in quite a while.
As a group of us were standing around talking about all of the different floats, 17-year-old Haylee Arrington came over and joined in on the conversation. Arrington had a float entered in the parade and was waiting to hear the judges’ decisions on which floats captured their votes. Little by little Arrington shared the story of how and why she had built and entered her float.
Arrington told the group that ever since her cousin was very young she always wanted to, and did, attend the Christmas parade, but this year her cousin asked for a bit of a change. She wanted to be in the parade. Even though her cousin just asked to be in the parade the Sunday before the big event, Arrington was determined to fulfill her cousin’s request.
From that Sunday to the time of the parade Arrington, along with the help of her aunt, Shelly Neighbors, managed to put a float together that could accommodate her cousin’s special needs. Arrington’s 11-year-old cousin, Breana Hudson, was born with spina bifida and as a result , must rely upon her wheelchair to get her around. Arrington designed her float to easily hold Hudson, with her wheelchair, securely.Arrington called her creation the Ladybug float and said that she had included big signs that were printed with the words “Peace, Love and Joy.” She said that she had arranged the signs so that “Joy” was the biggest one and that her cousin would be sitting directly under it.
Arrington said that she has always been extremely close to her cousin and why Hudson would be sitting under “Joy.”
“Breana brings joy to everyone’s life who she comes in contact with. I wanted to make her wish come true and let her be in the parade this year,”Arrington said.
No, the Ladybug float didn’t win any of the prizes that were handed out Thursday night. But when I went over to take a picture of Arrington’s creation, it was easy to see that her prize was already there. In the middle of a very nicely decorated flat-bed trailer sat a little girl in a light blue sweatshirt wearing a red Santa hat and a very big smile. Thanks to the determination and love of her cousin, Breana Hudson got to be part of the 35th Annual LaGrange Christmas Parade.
Yes, it really is feeling like Christmas here in LaGrange.