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LaGrange holds parade

Santa Claus took his annual ride through downtown LaGrange in a fire truck along with a hundred parade entries on Thursday night and brought with him the Christmas Spirit.

The holiday celebration had a holly jolly start on the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce plaza, where children colored, had their faces painted and told Santa what they wanted for Christmas. When there was scarcely a young face left to be painted, the tree lighting ceremony began with an explanation of this year’s parade theme.

“The theme of this year’s Christmas parade in LaGrange is ‘Let There be Peace on Earth,’” Mayor Jim Thornton said. “I think that is something that we would all like to see — certainly in our community and around the world. This is a time of peace, and we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.”

This year, two community leaders who fit with that theme of peace were tasked with lighting up the city’s Christmas tree and leading the parade.

“Regardless of race, religion, where we live in the community, financial status, we all come together and work together for our community, and there are no two better examples of that then the two individuals that were selected to be grand marshals for this year’s Christmas parade — Rep. Carl Von Epps and Chairman Ricky Wolfe,” Thornton said. “They both have long and distinguished careers of public service in our community.”

Both Von Epps and Wolfe served the community as elected officials for years, but they have more recently made waves with their efforts to bridge the gap between locals with understanding and stronger relationships.

“Rep. Carl Von Epps having served 22 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, now retired, and Chairman Ricky Wolfe having served eight years as chairman of the Troup County Commission, now retired,” Thornton said. “Of course, they have been involved in so many local civic organizations, I’m not even going to try to begin naming them all, but in retirement they didn’t stop serving our community. Instead they came out of retirement and served as the co-chairs of the Racial Trustbuilding Initiative, now simply Trustbuilding Inc., which is in its third year of bringing people together and building bridges across historic divides in our community, and so we celebrate their work tonight, as well as their individual careers and everything they have meant to the entire Troup County community.”

Both expressed their thanks for the community’s support before lighting the tree.

“I’d just like to wish everybody a merry, merry Christmas,” Von Epps said.

For the parade winners, see tomorrow’s edition of the LaGrange Daily News.

Additional photos can be found on our Facebook page @LaGrangeDailyNews