Celebrates Country Traditions
By SUE SiENS
Some of the city folk in Wilson County might not know about one of the holiday season’s most fun events.
It’s the Possom Town Christmas Parade, and it is an annual tradition started by a group of local residents living in the Possom Town area; Jerry McFarland, Dr. Roger McKinney, and Danny Dillon to name a few. This year the parade will be held on Sunday, December 11, at 1 p.m. The parade begins at Friendship Christian School on Coles Ferry Pike, travels down Berea Church Road, makes a circle over to Mann Road, and back to Coles Ferry.
You might ask, as I did, “Exactly where is Possom Town?” Jerry McFarland, one of several (self-proclaimed) Mayors of Possom Town, explained that Possom Town is a “real” community, and is spelled with an “o” unlike the common marsupial, often found roadside, called a “possum”. He said, “As defined by an 1891 newspaper, the Mt. Juliet Record, Possom Town lies in the area of Wilson County between Barton’s Creek and Spring Creek, going north to the Cumberland River and south to Coles Ferry Pike.” This more rural area of Wilson County is just outside of Lebanon and east of Highway 109, and is still home to many farms and larger home lots. (I believe the real Mayor of Possom Town is Mr. Raymond Hunter, but you might have to contact Eula Mae Williams, Possom Town News correspondent, to be sure.)
McFarland said the idea for the parade started about 17 years ago to celebrate Christmas the “old timey” way. Parade participants arrive on horseback, in pick-up trucks, wagons, carriages, and antique cars. It’s all about having fun and celebrating the rural country lifestyle.
Jim Kidwell, official Possom Town Parade photographer, said, “It is one of the neatest parades. It is a good old country parade where everyone is down to earth. There are families, and their dogs, tractors, wagons, and I’ve even seen a pontoon boat in the parade and a truck decorated as the “Possom Town Animal Control” vehicle. Kidwell noted that ATV’s are also common now too, although not his favorite, but everyone is welcome to join the parade and come out and watch.
You don’t have to be an official resident of Possom Town to participate. This year the parade is expected to be bigger and better than ever, because last year the parade was cancelled due to an icy weather forecast.
The Possom Town Christmas season is also an annual time to help others in need. Each year through the Possom Town Outreach, residents are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, coats, clothing, and items for children, and personal items such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste. These items are then shared with families in one of the poorest areas of East Tennessee, Sneedville (in Hancock County). Beginning in mid-November, there will be a large truck parked at Friendship Christian School to drop off your items. The fi nal collection date will be on Friday, December 9th at 12 noon. The truck will be leaving on December 9th to carry the items to the East Tennessee families.
Jerry McFarland said he first became aware of their extreme poverty when he served as director of the Tennessee Civil Defense, and they assisted with flooding of the Clinch River in Hancock County in 1977. He noted that some residents still have no running water. He said other groups in our area including Friendship Christian School and Immanuel Baptist Church are also helping Sneedville residents with food, clothing, and providing wells and water purification systems.
Ya’ll come and bring the kids to Possom Town. We hear after the parade, swamp possum and cabbage stew might be served at the local market! For more information about the parade and items needed for Sneedville, contact Jerry McFarland at 330-8474.