THE UNIQUE COMMUNITY SPIRIT ALONG BLUFFTON’S BEACH MAKES A TRIP TO THE BLUFFTON CHRISTMAS PARADE SOMETHING TRULY UNIQUE.
One of the many beautiful things about Bluffton is its people. And in a town known for its eclectic characters and Southern charm, none are more notoriously quirky than those living just outside town limits in Alljoy.
Alljoy is home to several descendants of the original families who moved to the area a long time ago to enjoy the bounty and beauty of the majestic May River. Harry and Antoinette All built the All Joy Hotel in 1926 and the area name came from it being Mrs. All’s pride and joy, her All Joy.
Newcomers have also made Alljoy home and are accepted and welcomed by the natives. Together, new and old share in the “Alljoy Family.” Acceptance comes from the understanding that they will treat and respect this beautiful area through service and consideration of others. The Alljoy family is a kind, caring group of people who are quick to lend a hand to a neighbor in need. Random acts of kindness are prevalent.
A sign in front of Antoinette’s grandson’s home reads, “Count it ALL JOY- James 1:2” and that sentiment reflects beautifully the area and the ideals of the people who live here. Community bonfires, golf cart gatherings at sunset, outdoor movies, neighbors hosting Lowcountry boils and local fisherman sharing their catch all add to a joyous spirit.
The approaching holiday adds no small measure of cheer to that spirit, and folks are excited for the upcoming Annual Bluffton Christmas Parade. The parade itself is a huge event and the carts that cruise in from the Alljoy area do so with great pride and enthusiasm for the day’s festivities.
Centrally located in this vibrant village, at the intersection of Thomas Lawton and Alljoy road, is the home of husband and wife Wally Sumner and Diane Owens. Sumner came to the area 31 years ago when it was still a dirt road and made what was once the Fiddler his residence. Golf cart cruising is common in this area, and for the last fifteen years the couple have been prime participants in the “carta- van” voyage to the Bluffton Christmas parade.
Folks go all out, decorating their carts with everything from garland and wreaths to palm fronds mimicking reindeer antlers. Many carts also get “pimped out” with LED lights, balloons and banners, and then everyone heads in early to set up at their favorite spot on Calhoun street.
Group participation in making scrumptious holiday dishes to share tailgate style is one aspect of what make this occasion a heartfelt community event. Sumner is also known for his trademark, Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktails, which are a big highlight of the day.
“My wife is in charge of dressing me up,” he said. “She is very festive.”
Last year Sumner walked about dressed in a Santa T-shirt, shorts and flip flops, smoking his signature cigar while giving out scratch-off lottery tickets with gold dollar coins hot glued to them. Mrs. Claus was making her rounds and even their pet pig, Lila, had a Santa suit!
The Bluffton Christmas Parade was started by Dianne Reynolds and several others over 40 years ago. Babbie Guscio took over the joy of parade planning when Reynolds no longer had the time, and organized the fun for the next 15 years.
Said Guscio, “It was a very quirky spur of the moment affair and nobone ever knew what was coming next. I invited all of the Presidents, the Lone Ranger, movie stars you name it. Simone Griffeth, who went to Hollywood and became a sensation in movies and television, was the only person of some renown who accepted my offer of Grand Marshall. Simone was and still is a ‘Bluffton Bombshell’ who stole the hearts of many ‘Bluffton Boys.’”
The Town Hall Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Grand Marshal Announcement at 5 p.m. Dec. 4 kicks off the event. There will also be a presentation by the M.C. Riley Chorus and a visit from Santa.
The Bluffton Christmas Parade starts at 10 a.m. Dec. 5. The parade starts at Pritchard and Bridge Streets (Town Hall) and ends at Red Cedar Elementary School and is approximately three miles long, lasting roughly three hours.
So dress up your dog, dress up yourself and come out and enjoy the 2015 Bluffton Christmas Parade.