Longtime organizer and stage announcer Joe Wilson has been busy gearing up for the 29th annual Lebanon Carriage Parade and Christmas Festival, which will be held in downtown Lebanon on Saturday, Dec. 2.
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The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with two parades, at 1 and 7 p.m.
Wilson has helped to organize the Carriage Parade for about 25 years.
In addition to his work with the parade, Wilson has served the community through the Warren County Fair Board as well as being a past board member and former chairman of the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce.
Wilson, 70, is retired from a career in commercial sales and as a building contractor with a specialty in building horse barns and dairy barns.
Wilson is licensed by the State of Ohio as a part-time auctioneer, and he manages commercial property in and around Lebanon.
He and his wife, Linda, live near Oregonia. They have three daughters and three grandchildren, ranging in age from age 8 to 22, who are active in 4-H Club and love animals. Joe is a native of the area and he grew up on a farm.
Q: What do like about being an announcer in the parade? What’s that like for you?
A: That's a good thing for me. I've served as announcer for about four years, and I've been involved as one of the parade organizers for 25 years. I go up and organize the horses with my committee that helps me organize everything, and we get the line-up in place. Then, about five minutes before the parade starts, I go up on the announcer's stand. I get to see all the people, wave at them, and talk to them on the loud speaker as they go by…I make up an announcer's book with all the information that the participants have sent to me. Then, we have something to read about every carriage as they go by, including the names of the people and the type of horse and carriage they have. Some of them even give us their horse's name.
Q: What are the details of this year’s event?
A: The 29th Annual Lebanon Carriage Parade and Christmas Festival will be held on Saturday, December 2 in downtown Lebanon. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Two parades will be held with an afternoon parade at 1 p.m. and an evening candlelit parade at 7 p.m. The family-friendly event is free, and free parking is available. For more information, visit www.LebanonChamber.org or call (513) 932-1100. Also, check out the event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lebanoncarriageparade.
Q: Why do you think the horsemen (and their carriages) enjoy being part of this annual parade?
A: Because it has become the number-one, all-carriage parade in this part of the United States. As far as I know, there's not even another one that is close to our size that is made up of all carriages. There are some that are big that have 20 or 30 groups of horse-back riders, but we're an all-carriage parade.
Q: What do you love the most about the parade, now that you’ve seen how popular it has become, and how it has grown?
A: Well, just trying to keep it going, and keeping it so that it's a great Christmas event for the town of Lebanon. We're the biggest in the country as far as an all horse-drawn carriage parade. We want to keep that going, because everyone wants to come up on the first Saturday of December to Lebanon, see the parade, and start their Christmas shopping. It's good for all the people in and around Lebanon.
Q: What is the most personally satisfying aspect of being able to be a part of the parade?
A: Just hearing the crowd cheer as the horses come down the street. We encourage the crowd to cheer when they see a horse and carriage they really like. They clap for them, and holler. The horses like it, and the people that put all the effort into getting them there, they love it, too.
Q: Why would you encourage the community to come and see the parade?
A: It's a one-of-a-kind event. There's nothing like our evening parade. People can go to different cities and see parades that will have fire trucks and things like that, along with a few horses, but ours is all horses and all horse-drawn wagons, carts and carriages. You'll never see anything like it in this part of the country.
Q: Does your wife, Linda, serve on the organizing committee, as well?
A: Yes, she's one of the main organizers, once we start getting everything up to the staging area on Saturday morning. She helps me put the order of the parade together, and she's a partner in this with me. All of our family members are involved in the parade.
Q: You keep active. Do you have any hobbies?
A: Now my hobbies are watching my granddaughters being involved in their sports, and things like that. I like working the auctions. I get to see a lot of people every time we work a big Saturday auction. Every time you have one, it's different. There are different things at every auction. I keep busy. I don't have much down time. … Also, I have commercial rental properties I have to take care of.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet?
A: The last thing I want to do before I totally retire is run for mayor of Oregonia if they ever incorporate (laughs.) If they ever incorporate Oregonia, I'm going to run for mayor.
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