Thousands Turn Out For Christmas Parade In Nazareth

For a town with virtually no population, there were two traffic jams in Picher on Saturday.

One was the jam of people entering the town for the first ever "Coming Home for Christmas" parade, the other jam was everyone leaving, KOAM reports.

Thousands of people returned to Picher for a Christmas parade years after its residents moved out of the mined-out area.

The parade featured dozens of entries and drew many former residents who grew up in the town.

Picher was the center of the EPA's Tar Creek Superfund site, a 40-square-mile area that also included portions of Missouri and Kansas and was one of the world's most productive regions for lead and zinc.

Polluted lead waste, sinkholes and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study that found dozens of homes in peril of collapsing into old mines prompted a federal buyout.

Most residents had left by 2009, but some former residents still return each year for a school reunion.

"It's very exciting, you know, the whole thing of Christmas is coming home. And since 2008, I was in the tornado, so since 2008, you know, it's been kind of a lost thing," former resident Kim Davis told CBS affiliate KOAM. "And when everybody decided to cover this, there's just been so much excitement and people are just so excited. I mean look, the streets, the streets are filled."

Davis brought her whole family, including her grandson.

"My grandson, this is his first year to experience a parade at Picher, he's 2. What better time to get him to be able to experience that? He won't understand it now, but in about 20 years he'll understand," Davis said.

The morning parade was filled with floats from area businesses and marching bands from area schools, and many ran out of candy with the unexpected couple thousand who lined the street. Many donned old letterman jackets and jerseys from their Picher Cardin High School days.

The committee says due to the turnout, they will work towards making it an annual event.


The Associated Press and KOAM-TV contributed to this report.


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