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Easter marches into Rabbittown

Annual parade draws hundreds of spectators

POSTED: April 2, 2008 5:01 a.m.
ROBIN MICHENER NATHAN /The Times

Keith Chandler with the Stone Masonic Lodge drives a little red Corvette in front of the rabbit statue Saturday morning in the Rabbittown Easter parade.

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The spirit of Easter, as one spectator called it, was flourishing Saturday morning at the Rabbittown Easter parade.

The statue of the famous Rabbittown rabbit looked over Old Cornelia Highway as floats, classic cars and performers cruised by hundreds of spectators. And of course, like most parades, it featured candy for the crowd and a Shriner in a miniature car.

The Easter parade was sponsored by the Stone Masonic Lodge No. 715, whose members also set up a concession stand along the street.

Todd Sullivan and Drew Reynolds, both of Gainesville and both members of the Stone Masonic Lodge, worked at the concession stand to raise money and provide tasty food for the parade watchers.

"We’re hoping to break even ... we’re just here to help the community," Sullivan said.

The parade lasted about 30 minutes and was kicked off by members of the Hall County sheriff’s department on motorcycles. Other members of the force followed in patrol cars and the S.W.A.T van and McGruff the Crime Dog also made an appearance.

Hall County Fire Services came next, throwing candy and waving to the many children on the side of the road from their shiny, red fire engines.

Endless rows of sparkling suits was all the crowd could see next as dozens of baton twirlers came dancing down the street.

Cindy and Johnny Flanigan of Banks County came out to watch two of those sparkling twirlers. Their two daughters, Chelsea and Courtney twirled batons in the parade.

Chelsea Flanigan, 11, was performing in the Rabbittown Easter parade for the fifth time.

"It’s really amazing that we can come out here and do what we do and entertain these people," Chelsea Flanigan said.

The Gainesville Twirlers, Westminster Christian School twirlers and Lanierland Twirlers of Banks County led the way for the East Hall High School Viking Band. The Viking Band also was lead by its own team of baton twirlers adorned in sparkling gold, white and black uniforms.

One band mom drove an hour to watch her two children march by.

Wanda Mintz of Lula and her family had been camping Friday night in Tugalow State Park. Mintz came to Saturday morning’s parade with her husband, Terry, and friends, Don and Norma Phillips of Lula. Mintz’s son, Mitchell, 18, and daughter, Jessica, 14, both are in the Viking Band. In addition to watching her kids perform, Mintz said she likes seeing people she knows at the parade. For her son, it was all about the instruments.

"The best part was getting to play brand new tubas," Mitchell Mintz said.

Watching the band perform also drew Taylor Masters of Gainesville to the Rabbittown Easter parade. She came with her mom, Michelle, to see her best friend, Lindsey McElroy, 15, play clarinet in the band. Masters also celebrated her 16th birthday on Saturday and said she was excited to see the drumline.

Floats at the parade included Whitehead Baptist Church, Kim’s Kuts & Kurls, Tom’s Pizza and the Vietnam Veterans Association of Northeast Georgia, Chapter 772, all adorned with riders tossing candy to the crowd.

And what’s a parade without Shriners?

Members of the Shriner’s Club of Gainesville rode by in a trio of Cadillac Eldorados and were followed by Keith Chandler of Stone Masonic Lodge in a miniature car. Many other classic cars participated in the parade as well tractors and horses.

In spite of all the usual parade trappings, at least one spectator said it was all about the holiday.

"It’s about the Easter spirit," said Johnny Flanigan.



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