The bleachers at the Alton High School gym were filled with family and friends the morning of Dec. 6 as they watched the Little Mister and Miss Merry Christmas pageant sponsored by the Alton Culture Club. Emcee Tammy Curtis began the pageant with a brief explanation of the Culture Club.
They are part of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC), one of the world's largest and oldest women's volunteer service organizations. Working locally through thousands of clubs in the United States and globally in more than 20 countries, GFWC members support the arts, preserve natural resources, promote education, encourage healthy lifestyles, stress civic involvement, and work toward world peace and understanding.
Curtis said, "The Alton Culture Club is comprised of 11 hard working women who volunteer time and talent so Alton will have Christmases to remember."
Proceeds from the pageant are used for future pageants, Christmas parades and the town Christmas decorations.
Curtis then announced, "Every year the Culture Club honors someone from the community as grand marshal of the parade and pageant. This year's grand marshal is a husband and wife team who were selected for their generous support of the Alton Culture Club, pageant and parade. They have generously provided storage for all of the town lights and decorations, and for all the props used for this pageant. In addition, they have given generous cash donations in support of this annual event. They have been merchants in the city of Alton since 1964: Gary and Deane Simpson."
The Simpsons stood on center stage as Curtis recounted their history: Gary was born in a small hospital in Mammoth Spring and raised in Alton while Deane was born and raised in Thayer. In 1962 Gary went to work for his dad, Sol Simpson, who was a skilled carpenter. Gary expanded Sol's carpentry trade to include electrical and plumbing. That required ordering electrical and plumbing supplies and a long wait before a job could be completed. That long wait eventually gave birth to Simpson's Supply and True Value. In January of 1964 Gary and Deane married, and in June of that year they built a supplies and appliance store that would serve the entire Alton area. Today, with the help of their two children, Holly and Keith, they are still expanding their business.
After a warm round of applause the crowd enjoyed the presentation of the young pageant contestants. The winners were: Cammi Warren, 4, daughter of Rusty and Wendy Warren, and Hunter Warren, 6, son of Jeff and Missy Warren. They were sponsored by Alton Bank. First runners up, sponsored by Alton Quick Connection, were Cassy Roberts, 4, daughter of Bobby and Allison Roberts, and Aaron Campbell, 4, son of Billy and Cynthia Campbell. Second runners up, sponsored by Simpson's True Value, were Mary Alice Oesch, 5, daughter of David and Anne Oesch, and Trevor Campbell, 6, son of Travis and Kim Campbell.
Shortly after the pageant, people gathered along the parade route from the high school to Court Square. As the parade passed children scrambled for the candy tossed from the many floats. The theme of the parade was "The Gifts of Christmas" with floats depicting both secular and religious themes.
Winners of the float contest were: religious -- 1st, Alton Freewill Baptist; 3 way tie for 2nd -- Macedonia Baptist, Victory Freewill Baptist, United Methodist Church. Secular --first, Alton Girl Scouts, second, Dorothy Barton, third, Shady Oaks.
Automobiles were also recognized. Antique vehicles: 1st, Burl Wright, 1932 Chevrolet; second, Bob Ledgerwood, 1941 Chevrolet Coupe. Classic vehicles: first, John Cotton, 1955 Ford Crown Victoria; second, Gene Herman, 1954 Chevrolet pickup.