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The Roanoke Rapids Parks and Recreation Department announced today that Jim Whitmire will be the grand marshall for the annual Christmas parade set for December 3 at 2 p.m. along the avenue.

“It’s very well deserved,” parks and recreation Director John Simeon said. “He’s just a fantastic guy in our community who does so much. If you know Jim, you know what he does in our community.”

Whitmire has been an Optimist Club president, he has been a Project Graduation committee member for nine years as well as a board member and umpiring chief for the Roanoke Rapids Youth Baseball Association. “He’s the current president of our Roanoke Rapids High School Yellow Jackets Club.”

He serves as the Liaison for GM marketing sponsorships of Roanoke Rapids Youth Baseball and the city’s recreation basketball league on behalf of White Motors. 

He is the PA announcer for Roanoke Rapids High School football. “When you go to a football game and you hear that PA announcer — that’s Jim Whitmire,” Simeon said. “He’s also the girls high school basketball coach and was voted the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A coach of the year three times. People don’t realize that. Jim’s a very humble person. When we told Jim he was very pleased, he was proud of himself but the first thing he said was, ‘There’s a lot of other people deserving.’ That just tells what kind of person Jim is — just a great standup person in our community who really needs to be recognized for all that he does.”

He has been the RRHS girls basketball coach for nine years and holds a 137-71 record with two conference championships, one conference tournament championship, eight straight playoff appearances including two sweet 16s and one elite 8.

He is the drummer for the worship team band at First Christian.

Kelly Daughtry, assistant parks and recreation director, said Whitmire volunteers for the department in its instructional league for 7- and 8-year-olds. “He’s been doing that for 10 years ever since Gilbert Portela retired. He really means a lot to us because he is a great volunteer in the community.”

Other parade information

The parade will be held rain or shine, Simeon said, and instead of ending the parade at First Street, the procession will end at Third Street. “Second and First street are not going to have anything on it. Those of you who are picking children up, we recommend that you go to the Neighborhood Resource Center that’s right behind the library on Jackson Street or the library parking lot.”

There are no dogs allowed during the parade, he said. “That’s a city ordinance and you’re subject to fines.”

Simeon said people are not to park on the avenue business district.

Daughtry said today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for registering to participate in the parade.

As of Thursday night there had been 61 entrants in the parade, a number that Simeon said is expected to swell to 100 to 125 by the end of the day.

Daughtry said the entrants thus far represent businesses, people in the community, and nonprofits. “We have two church floats. We have nine fire, rescue and law enforcement groups, a tractor club, two car clubs, two horse groups, and three professional floats.”

She said there will be four different vendors up and down the parade line. There will be three bands and six Shrine Club groups are scheduled to be in attendance as well as several mascots including North Carolina State and the University of North Carolina.

“I just want to make sure we thank everybody in the community that makes the parade happen,” Daughtry said — from people who give the city permission to use parking lots to Mason Price Construction for the judge’s trailer and Roseburg and Halifax Linen.

“The City Manager Kelly Traynham is very supportive of all our programs and we could not do any of these things without police, any law enforcement, public works, fire, and EMS,” Daughtry said.

“It really takes all of us in the city and we’re just the front people. There’s a lot of people behind the scenes like the Computer Guy who helps us out with our website,” Simeon said.