Pawhuskans to celebrate ‘Old Fashioned Cowboy Christmas’

Robert Smith

If you’re from Pawhuska, chances are you’re already a fan of the annual Christmas parade. Smiles, laughs, candy on the street for the little ones, a time to relax and show your neighbors some affection.

If you’re not from Pawhuska, a great way to time a visit to Osage County for the Christmas season is to plan on attending the Pawhuska Christmas “Parade of Lights” on Saturday, Dec. 7.

The parade will start at 5:30 p.m., but it would be wise to check the weather forecast that morning to plan appropriate dress for the occasion, and then get to Pawhuska early enough that afternoon to score a parking spot just east of Kihekah Avenue in the free municipal parking lot.

This isn’t any old Christmas parade; it’s an event on the rise. Pawhuska is a small town of about 3,500 people and its Christmas parade had 43 entries last year, which is a record. It beat the previous mark by 11, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

The theme for the 2019 parade will be “Old Fashioned Cowboy Christmas,” and world rodeo champion cowgirls Charla Hartness-Allen and Lynn Star McGuire-Holloway have been announced as the parade marshals for 2019. Cody Garnett, who organizes the parade along with his wife, Lauren, said the 2019 parade marshals are rodeo world champions born and reared in Osage County.

The parade will feature entries, including floats, prepared by both commercial and non-profit groups, and there’ll be live music in the form of the country-and-western stylings of The Tallgrass Drifters, a group consisting of Oklahoma Mike and Bo Terry.

Following the parade, you can amble down the street to the Constantine Theater for a Christmas movie. The theater is showing the 1947 Christmas-themed classic, “It Happened on Fifth Avenue,” again this year. Garrett Hartness, spokesman for the Constantine, said viewer reaction to the film last year was strongly positive.

“It’s kind of one of those hidden Christmas movies,” Hartness said. “We just had a great response from people who came to see the movie.”

He said that positive response included younger viewers. There is no admission charge for the movie screening, though you’re always free to give a donation if you like. Hartness commented that the movie is the theater’s Christmas gift to the community.

Lauren Garnett, who grew up in Pawhuska, says the annual Christmas parade always helped her to re-establish her sense of identification with her hometown.

“Even in college I came home for it,” she said. “Even for those people who maybe have moved away, it’s a great time to come back to your hometown.”

“When I was in college and I came back it was like I hadn’t left at all,” Garnett said. She also explained the parade-entry judging has a spontaneous element to it, with judges being drawn from the parade crowd.

“We usually draw judges from the crowd at random,” Garnett said. Another element of Christmas in Pawhuska that she has found emblematic of the experience is the Christmas tree by the Triangle Building at the junction of Kihekah Avenue and Main Street.

So if you’re looking for that small-town magic at Christmas, Pawhuska is ready to put its spell on you.