PICHER – The fifth annual “Coming Home for Christmas” parade will be held Saturday, Dec. 7, at 10 a.m. in Picher.
Sherri Mills, a member of the organizing committee, said, “It just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. People are calling wanting to make sure they are in it.”
There is no entry fee for the parade and anyone who wants to may decorate a pole. Entries will begin lining up at 9:15 a.m. for the parade that will start at the high school and go down Main Street to the four-way stop.
The Old Miners Pharmacy building will be open before and after the parade with lots of Picher memorabilia for sale. There will also be hot chocolate and donuts available.
The lead and zinc mining town's demise came after Picher was named the Tar Creek Superfund Site in 1980 by the Environmental Protection Agency from subsurface undermining causing cave ins, toxic metal-contaminated mine tailings (chat), and groundwater contamination. The town was further devastated by an F4 tornado that struck in 2008.
Picher was disincorporated by the state of Oklahoma and ceased officially on Sept.1, 2009. The 2000 census showed a population of 1,640, but that number was down to less than 20 by 2010.
Few homes remain and many buildings are long gone after residents were relocated through government buyouts. But the memories that remain are strong ones and people are drawn back year after year.
“We basically thought it would just be Picher people still interested in the town who would still come back for the parade, but the first parade, you could barely get into town because it was so big,” Mills said. “It just keeps getting bigger because people are sharing their memories for their grandkids. They plan vacation time around the time to come home for the Christmas parade.”
Last year’s parade drew almost 70 units, according to Mills, who said, “We thought it would be 30 or 40, but each year it gets bigger and bigger.”
The grand marshal for the parade will be members of the organizing committee, including Mills, Sue Sigle, Susie Stone, Donna Reeves, Debbie Barnes and Tish Freeman.
For more information, call Mills at 918-541-5805.