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Murrells Inlet: A year-long quest for a Christmas parade trophy

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

For five years, Bryan Smith has been doing everything he can think of to win the prize for best entry in the Murrells Inlet Christmas Parade.

The owner of U.S. Lawn in Murrells Inlet, last year he dressed up his yellow Labrador retriever in reindeer antlers and had the dog, seated on a red lawn mower, guide a team of other mowers in pulling Santa’s red dune buggy.

Another year he had employees dress as grinches and drive lawn mowers in crazy patterns down the parade route on Business 17 in an imitation of what the Shriners do in their miniature sports cars.

But Smith’s efforts have failed to impress the panel of kids who hand out the prizes every year. Even the year he had a bulldozer dump a huge load of candy in front of the judges booth, he didn’t win.

“They told me I was trying to bribe the judges that time,” Smith said. “Last year I really thought I had it with the dog and the sleigh, but I got beat out by a giant dump truck that wasn’t even decorated. That kind of hurt my feelings a little bit there.”

Don’t expect him to give up, though. He’s been plotting this year’s entry since the 2010 parade and was at Home Depot earlier this week looking for parts to start putting it together in time for the parade on Sunday.

“This whole week my focus is on getting the props built and all that stuff,” Smith said. “I can’t tell you what I’ve got up my sleeve this year, but it’s going to be bigger and better. I’m pulling out the big guns to win this thing and I feel pretty confident.”

With each loss, he said, he has studied the entries that won and thinks he finally has a handle on what the judges are looking for.

“It’s all about the kids. You’ve got to make it fun for the kids and do things they will enjoy. And, of course, you have to throw out tons and tons of candy,” he said.

The parade starts at 3 p.m. Sunday, traveling south from Willcox Avenue to Pendergrass Avenue, but families will start lining up along Business 17 long before to make sure they get a good spot.

So far, 62 entries are signed up. The deadline to register was Friday, but entries are still coming in and being accepted, said Sue Sledz, executive director of Murrells Inlet 2020, the group that organizes the parade.

“Kids will leave with more candy than they could ever collect on Halloween,” she promised.

If that’s not enough incentive, hot chocolate, cookies and cupcakes will be offered at a tree lighting at Morse Park immediately after the parade, and Santa will be on hand to visit with good little boys and girls.

Smith, for one, said it’s an event he wouldn’t miss — even if he doesn’t take home the prize.

“I feel pretty good about this year, but if I don’t win, I’ll start wracking my brain for next year,” he said.

If you go

When: Sunday, 3 p.m.

Where: The route along Business 17 begins at Willcox Avenue, travels south to Pendergrass Avenue and west to Frontage Road.

Entries: Call 357-2007 or go online. Participants are asked to donate an item to Toys for Tots. Spectators are also asked to bring a toy to donate.

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