By Dick Butcher
The 2023 Chapin Labor Day did not disappoint with cars, pickup trucks, families, and children of all ages lined up in the beautiful weather waiting for the parade to start. Sure, enough at 9:30, the parade came marching into town. Our spot across the road from the O’Reilly auto parts store turned out to be a perfect one.
Candy, surprises, and even frozen pops were handed out by numerous floats and exhibits that were in the parade. It was a beautiful sunny day, a little warm but bearable. Initially, the crowd was estimated at several thousand with attendees of all ages, sizes, and shapes.
Politics as usual were on display with a long Trump caravan taking place in the parade. The Chapin High School Marching band, as well as the school ROTC, three groups of cheerleaders and other youth and church groups, participated in the parade. Chapin Grand Marshall Robert Smith led off the Parade looking sharp in a spiffy yellow convertible. He was closely followed by the Chapin High School marching band and the show was on as cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, and various other modes of movement populated the parade column. Mayor Al Koon was looking sharp riding in the back of his convertible and interacting enthusiastically with the crowd.
Children squealed in delight as the parade entrants were quite generous with little children in addition to teenage boys and Moms and Dads competing with enthusiasm for the delightful treats, toys, and goodies. There were entrants parading on behalf of various local groups from churches and businesses, American Legion Post 193, complete with motorcycle riders, Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon, as well as his rival Billy Warren for re-election also in the parade.
There were lots of cars and marches carrying Nikkie Haley, and Tim Scott and showing their support for other politicians, but the most support seemed to be there for Donald Trump including a car caravan, bunches of marchers and two different groups on the march during the parade. State Attorney General Joe Wilson made an appearance in the parade, which for the most part was dominated politically by Republican candidates for the Presidency.
The exhibitions and booths were all doing a brisk business with folks flooding the town on Beaufort Street and the entire downtown area to buy food from the food trucks and stop to visit vendors showing off jewelry, hats, wooden kitchen utensils, knives, and tee-shirts and even insurance and window replacement products and everything else under the sun. It was almost anything anyone could imagine. There were a very large number of vendors selling hats and clothing including Miss Cocky displaying a very large selection of items for sale.
The exhibit of electric trains and the car show were especially interesting. There were several different train setups, and an abundance of very beautifully restored cars, trucks and vehicles entered the car show.
The weather started to warm up toward the end of the parade, and tent-covered displays and eating areas became popular places to hang out in the shade were popular. Vendors were doing a brisk business and the crowd was taking advantage of the offerings while enjoying the car show and electric train exhibits.
The crowd did a great job of dealing with the temperatures, which reached the lower 90s in the afternoon, but there was no threat of rain, and the vendors, restaurants and bars did a brisk business most of the day and later into the afternoon, anticipating the evenings’ activities as the daytime attendees gradually gave way to a later arriving crowd.
The News did have a chance to catch up with the mayor in the middle of the afternoon along with several of his staff and did confirm Chief Griffin’s estimates that this was the largest crowd to ever attend the event.
The parade was preceded by Latin Night on Saturday and Boots on Beaufort on Saturday, so it was quite an eventful weekend for the town of Chapin.
See more Parade photos here.