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Down Home Days parade applications available

John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and we're not talking about Christmas! The 38th annual Down Home Days festival and parade, which will be held on Saturday, April 27, is right around the corner and the Madison County Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that parade applications are now available for parade entries.

Last year, the Down Home Days parade featured floats, walkers, golf carts and even go-karts. You could help make this year's parade, sponsored by Tri-County Electric Cooperative, bigger and better than ever!

Decisions for parade line-up will be made on a first-come, first served basis on the day of the parade. Line-up will begin at 8:30 a.m., at the main entrance of North Florida Community College, behind O'Neal's Country Buffett, located at 325 Turner Davis Dr., in Madison.

Parade application fees are as follows: Commercial and political entries, $30; non-profit and pageant entries, $15. Entry fees may be paid by check by mail or credit/debit card. If entrants prefer to pay by credit or debit card, an invoice will be sent to the email listed in the application.

As a part of the parade, entries will be judged with prizes given for best commercial entry, $25; best non-profit, $25; and best overall, $50. For safety purposes, the Chamber of Commerce is asking that there be no battery-powered children's vehicles. They are very dangerous and slow the procession. Candy, toys, beads and other objects cannot be thrown from the parade units for the safety of small children. All vehicles with greater than 15 horsepower will flow single-file down the parade centerline. No lurching or accelerating toward spectators is permitted as the safety of spectators and participants is paramount.

Gunfire and other small explosions, such as firecrackers, etc. are not permitted so as to not frighten small children and senior citizens. Anyone who violates these rules or otherwise endangers or frightens the public will be asked to leave the parade. The Chamber of Commerce would also like to discourage "walkers" in the parade (except for the purpose of distributing beads or candy to the crowd). Children must not be encouraged to approach floats at any time, other than marching formations. Walkers must accompany a float, vehicle or be in an organized group and maintain the pace of the parade at all times. All other parade entries will be asked to ride in their vehicle or float. The Chamber of Commerce is not responsible for any loss, theft or damage to personal property or any personal injury.

As the Down Home Days grows and becomes more popular, the Chamber of Commerce is looking to upgrade the appearance of all events, including the parade. The Chamber of Commerce is trying to encourage entries who spark the public's interest, including: bands, marching units, floats, antique automobiles and equestrian units. Please ensure that any signs adorning your entry are professionally painted and are large enough to be read from 100 feet away. Military salutes are always appreciated. Derogatory remarks or profanity will not be permitted.

The deadline for entries is Monday, April 15. Visit visitmadisonfl.org to download your form. Once completed, mail the completed entry form to Madison County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, at P.O. Box 817, Madison, Fla. 32341. For more information, call the Chamber at (850) 973-2788.

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