In Dec. 26 IssueBy Kim GrahamRCN Reporter
Since 1995, Elvis and Judy York of Russell County have given Christmas spirit from their hearts to countless others from their award winning parade float.
Adorned by 5,000 Christmas lights, The Spirit of Christmas float is like a little slice of the North Pole on wheels behind a 3688 International farm tractor.
“To us, this is the only way to do Christmas,” said Elvis York. “That’s the reason we call it ‘The Spirit of Christmas.’”
Santa is personally escorted by the Yorks to visit children in Russell County before his big night on Christmas Eve.
After the Christmas parades are finished, the Yorks and several volunteers including a few of Santa’s elves, take the float around Russell County delivering gifts to children and the young at heart.
Bags filled with oranges, apples, candy and special gifts for boys and girls are handed out to children along the route.
“What we are trying to do is to get people to understand the joy of giving and sharing,” Judy York said. “Seeing people begin to feel the spirit of Christmas is what it’s all about.”
At Christmas, the Yorks celebrate the spirit of the season by giving love to those who need it most.
In return, they receive gifts of enormous smiles and laughter of the children who gaze in amazement at the elaborate creation of light and sound.
Hearing Christmas music amplified from the float, children along the route emerge from their houses to run out in the winter air and talk to Santa and his elves.
Some children are drawn to the spinning carousel and its four horses Thunder, Cindy, Black Beauty and Princess.
Others notice the Ferris Wheel replica with cartoon character Beanie Babies as passengers.
Covered in lights with American flags flying, the big red International tractor attracts many a red blooded farm boy wanting to get a closer look and maybe even take a ride.
Generosity of the hearts of Elvis and Judy York take shape in their float and Christmas is the occasion for them to share their blessings with others.
“We don’t have any kids and we like helping kids,” said Elvis York. “That’s how it started because we like doing good for other people. This is our Christmas.”
The Spirit of Christmas float was created by Elvis York with the help of many talented friends who worked with him on various aspects of construction and decoration.
Family members and friends gather each year to join the Yorks in warming hearts spreading Christmas spirit.
Santa, his elves and helpers can find refuge from cold winter weather along the route in the Toy Shop complete with a wood stove aboard the float.
The toy shop is also the nerve center of the music broadcast with many selections of Christmas music and a sophisticated sound system.
Over the years, they’ve traveled in cold, ice and snow to many parades in Kentucky and even one in Gatlinburg, TN winning awards along the way.
“If they win prizes at parades, the prize money goes into buying gifts for the children,” said Mike Bunch, the York’s cousin and volunteer. “They’re great people.”
All who experience The Spirit of Christmas or join in the festivities by volunteering have the wondrous gleam in their eyes from the experience.
“It’s just a blast! It’s so much fun,” said elf Reva Carnes.
“How much better could it get?”