Jackson hosts Christmas parade
Every year people are in awe as floats take over the streets for the annual Jackson Christmas Parade. This go-around parade-goers honored the bittersweet moment of Jackson’s late Police Chief Dennis Rushton and celebrated the city’s first black grand marshal while watching the convivial scenery of marching bands, businesses and Santa Claus cruising down Highway 125.
Rushton, who was Chief for 27 years, died in 2018. While his physical self is gone, many folks in the community said he impacted Jackson in a positive way.
“He was a great guy; he looked after his employees and he made sure the job was done and the town was safe, said friend of Rushton Patt Sullivan.
Resident of Beech Island and friend Jim Broome said he was a bit of a renaissance man.
″…He could cook; he always had the big grill,” Broome said. ”… He was always a guy that would come with his big grill and cook and feed for the masses. Working with the town even though he was a police chief, he was the knew-a-little-bit-about-everything guy. Them folks at Town Hall are really going to miss him because if they were having some trouble with something in the maintenance department or any kind of equipment, he had the know-how on calling this person. He just knew something about everything. … It’s gonna be a huge loss in this town.”
Though many folks attending were thinking of the contributions Rushton made to the community, others – in rainy, yet warm weather – had their eyes on old-fashioned and modern-day vehicles, first responders, reindeer floats with folks dressed in Christmas hats, boats and trucks decked out in Christmas decorations, snowmen, Christmas trees, and dozens of area school students riding around on floats.
In the mix was Leon “Dusty” Stallings Jr., who is Jackson’s first African-American grand marshal. He was riding around in the backseat of a blue droptop waving to the dozens of parade-goers.
The last 37 years he has been a ball manager with Jackson High School and Silver Bluff High School. Stallings said he was proud to serve as the grand marshal.
“I love it; it surprised me too when they asked me to do it,” Stallings said after the parade. “I was going to a game Thursday night and Ms. Lynn came up to me and asked me ‘Guess what? You are going to be the grand marshal.’ This means everything to me.”
Frequent motorist of Jackson Billy Davis said the parade is good for the entire community.
“It’s for the schools and churches and it’s a way for the community to come together – harmony and love...,” Davis said.”
The floats that passed him by were in a contest, in which they were rated in categories of religious, commercial, miscellaneous, marching band, classic cars, tractors and best overall.
Also in the parade were Dennis Rushton Truck, Jackson Police Department, Silver Bluff NJROTC and Grand Marshal Banner, Senator Tom Young, Rep. Ronnie Young, Sherriff Mike Hunt and Aiken County Bloodhound Unit and Handlers.