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Branch wins parade honor for second consecutive year

Sharing the restored gospel in a small, predominantly Protestant southern town is difficult, according to Pres. Lester A. Fowler Jr. of the Kosciusko Branch in the Jackson Mississippi Stake.

"So in an attempt to bring the Church into the public eye, our small branch, with an average sacrament meeting attendance of 60 to 65 each Sunday, once again decided to enter a float in the religious category of the local Christmas parade," he said.As a result, the branch, for the second year in a row, won the award for the "best religious entry" in the parade on Dec. 2.

"Our media representative, Rita Fowler, was contacted by the Chamber of Commerce and was told when the parade was to be, and that the theme was `Christmas Around the World," Pres. Fowler said.

A committee of branch members decided on the message, "Christmas Means Christ in Any Language."

"To portray this message, we decided to build a giant globe with four pictures of the Christ in the red robe, framed, and in a square mounted on top of the globe," Pres. Fowler said.

"There were four children in authentic costumes representing four different countries at the four corners of the float, and each child held a sign which had `Merry Christmas' written in that country's native language. For skirting on the trailer we painted flags from as many countries as needed to completely encompass the trailer."

"Our entry was 16 feet long and 8 feet wide," the branch president said. "There were 58 entries. Ours was average in size.

"We did the decorating in the meetinghouse parking lot. Our entry looked as neat and clean as a freshly ironed shirt. We were truly proud of it."

Moving the float to the parade area, the workers experienced difficulty. The banners and flags whipped in the wind, and by the time they arrived at the parade site, the banners had been torn and the flags were wrinkled.

Even so, members of the branch there to greet the float makers cheered and thought the entry was beautiful. They had not seen it before.

"We gave it the once over before the judges came and discovered to our horror the lights weren't working and part of the banner with our theme was missing. We could see the judges coming down the street," Pres. Fowler said. "Just before they arrived, we managed to get the lights working.

"As our entry passed the people of our town, we knew and we knew that the Lord knew we represented the Church well."

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