A Small Town Christmas with a Very Big Heart

by Melinda Long | December 5, 2016


Nothing compares to Christmas in a small town.

Travelers Rest is no exception.

Even though it’s become the place to be in the upstate due to the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail and all the wonderful restaurants and attractions, it’s still a small town where people know each other and spend that extra bit of time it takes to make Christmas special.

Everybody becomes part of the celebration. The memories of time spent with family at Christmas appeal to all, but the small-town feeling is unique.

Long-time resident Joyce McCarrell recalls the Travelers Rest United Methodist Church and the wonderful live pageant they used to present every other year. “Whoever had the newest baby that year would be Mary and Joseph and little baby Jesus.”  Her sister, Nancy McCarrell, remembers The Singing Christmas Tree just down the street at Furman University.

But special to all is the Christmas Parade.

The Travelers Rest Parade began December 9, 1972 by the Travelers Rest Jaycees, and continues to be a crowd pleaser to this day.

For some, the memory is special because they recall marching down the street in the Travelers Rest High School band. Others danced through the street with their dance schools, wearing Christmas regalia and waving to the crowds. Still more love the memory of riding on a float and singing “Joy to the World” or “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.  If you were a spectator, you sat or stood on the side of the road, or maybe in a pickup truck bed, straining to watch the floats and the bands.

“Everyone in the whole community had a float,” says Mayor Wayne McCall. “All the churches had a float. The football teams had a float. If you were in a Church R.A. group, you had a float.” He remembers the music from the bands too; not only from Travelers Rest, but also bands from Berea, Blue Ridge, Sterling and Lincoln High marching down Center Street by the elementary school . They all came to spread Christmas cheer. “When George Coleman was mayor, he always had a brand new convertible for the parade,” says Mayor McCall.

Rebecca Cooper is a native of Travelers Rest. She’s president of The Greater Travelers Rest Chamber of Commerce and has been on the city council for 15 years. She has watched the parade grow over the years. “The Main Street renovation and the addition of the Swamp Rabbit Trail have only enhanced the parade,” she says.

The TR parade is one of the largest small town parades with over 100 entries. One longstanding tradition is that proceeds from the parade, after expenses, are split between The Foothills Family Partnership and The North Greenville Crisis Center.

This year the parade, sponsored by the Chamber and directed by Diana Kilgore, will be Saturday, December 10th at 10 A.M. The theme is “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.

Afterward you can do some serious local shopping at The Very Merry Local Christmas Market at Trailblazer Park from 1-5 P.M.

This particular tradition, sponsored by the Travelers Rest Farmers Market, was begun a few years ago and continues to grow in popularity.

Join us for a small town Christmas.

Bring your own joy!

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