The event began with the lights and sounds of the parade, which took advantage of the warmer-than-usual December conditions. Led by Grand Marshal Betty Benson, the parade included the Marching Cougars, the National Guard Color Guard, RHS cheerleaders, area beauty queens including Miss Clay County Sydney Simmons and Miss Rector Courtney Shepard, classic cars, horses and riders, local officials and intricately designed floats. The winning float entry was the Reed family's glimpse into Whoville, which included the popular Grinch, decked out in his Santa Claus attire. Twin Rivers Hospital and Rector Barber & Beauty Shop received second and third, respectively, for their float designs.
Children gathered along the parade route laughed and cheered as the parade entries passed by, many tossing handfuls of candy to the young onlookers. The parade set a festive tone for an evening filled with celebration.
The parade included a fleet of emergency vehicles from Rector, Marmaduke and Greenway.
Businesses throughout the community took part in decorating for the event. Liberty Bank received first prize for their sponsored ornaments. The NEA Innovative Training Center and Irby's Funeral Home were awarded second and third place, respectively.
A crowd of hundreds united at the Rector Community Center after the parade for the Community Gathering. Mayor David Freeman welcomed everyone to the center, thanking all the volunteers who made the event possible.
Children gathered around Santa Claus, sharing their last minute holiday wishes with jolly Saint Nick.
Richard Simmons was announced as the winner of the Rector Lions Club shotgun drawing, which served as the organization's annual fundraiser.
The crowd enjoyed Christmas cookies and hot chocolate during a program filled with talented performers. The young members of Cagle and Co. Dance Studio performed well-choreographed routines on stage, with four different classes displaying their skills in a variety of dances. The crowd cheered as the groups showcased tap, ballet and interpretive dances.
Music teacher and choir director Daveta Kirkindall led the newly-formed Rector Faculty Choir in a special performance. Kindergarten, first and second grade students took the stage to sing a medley of Christmas favorites. The final performance of the evening was a joint effort by the high school choir and band.
As the event concluded, many in attendance noted the importance of community fellowship and the value of the Rector Community Center in planning and hosting occasions such as this.