Former educator to serve as NA Christmas parade grand marshal

People are preparing floats and getting Christmas decorations together for the annual New Albany Christmas parade.

The grand marshal for this year’s parade is Hilda Hill, a former teacher both at Ingomar and New Albany schools.  

Hill is originally of Calhoun City in Calhoun County. As a child in Calhoun City, she was a clerk at the five and dime store, the Ben Franklin store that her parents owned. In high school, she got all state in girl’s basketball at Calhoun City High School. 

Nevertheless, she spent most of her life as an educator in Union County. Hill has had a life that is expansive in teaching and an array of extracurricular activities that has come to make her well known in Union County and in Tupelo.

Hill received a Bachelor of Art degree from Blue Mountain College in English and speech. She followed that with a Master of Art degree from the University of Mississippi in theater.

Soon after, she moved to the Ingomar community with her husband Charles G. Hill and the couple farmed in their spare time. Hill taught at Ingomar Attendance Center. In addition, she taught speech, drama, and directed plays in the New Albany school system at W. P. Daniel High School before accepting an opportunity at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville, Miss. She also taught speech and drama at Northeast and later she served Blue Mountain College as a professor and later as Dean of Students.

Joe Hill, one of Hilda’s sons, said, “She taught so many people in Union County, She has had such a tremendous impact on people.”

In addition to teaching, another talent of hers was hosting the cooking and talk show, “Colonel’s Cook,” which aired on WTWV in Tupelo. Hill hosted the show from 1956-1959.

Mr. Hill said, “It was like a cooking show and talk show. She had people on the show like the the mayor, fire chief, dogs from the dog pound, people from the garden club, etc. I can remember going  to the set of the ‘Colonel’s Cook’ show as a child. My brother and I would play with toys while she was hosting the show.”

Later, her teaching career was further focused on environmental education when she was selected to lead in the development of a project sponsored by Three Rivers Environmental Educational Cooperative. Hill, with the Northeast development team, was successful in proposing a project that eventually became Crow’s Neck Educational Center.

Hill finished her professional career as a United States Department of Agriculture coordinator responsible for outreach and public relations. She worked at USDA in the Soil Conservation Service as a public relations specialist. 

She also worked with Columbus’s Plymouth Bluff, the Appalachian Region Commission, Corps of Engineers, the Water Commission with the Tombigbee Waterway, the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, and Itawamba Community College.

Currently, Hill lives at Avonlea Assisted Living Center in Tupelo where she is involved in local missions, including a reading ministry. 

Mr. Hill said, “She is a funny storyteller. With the reading ministry, she reads to people who don’t see well or cannot read well and she reads to them. Since she was a drama teacher, she is so animated and with her inflections in the words, reading comes alive. Even people who don’t have trouble reading love to hear her read.”

She is an active member of Calvary Baptist Church in Tupelo.

Mrs. Hill was married to Charles G. Hill of New Albany for 49 years. She and Charles raised two sons, Chuck and Joe Hill. Chuck and Joy Hill now make their home in New Albany. Joe and Susan live in Senatobia, Miss. Hill has three grandchildren Holly (Daniel) Thompson, Captain Charlie Hill and Gavin Hill. She also has two great grandchildren, Aaron and Joshua Thompson. Her third grandchild is expected in May 2011. Her brother is Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun County. 

When asked about how she feels about being chosen as grand marshal for the New Albany Christmas parade, she said, “I am excited about being chosen as the grand marshal and I’m very humbled too. I enjoyed teaching in Ingomar and New Albany for years.”

Her hobbies include reading a lot, gardening, and she loves flowers.

The parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2010 in downtown New Albany. The parade will form at the Junction of Main and King Streets, proceed west on Main, turn east on Bankhead at the Tallahatchie River Bridge, and conclude at Central Avenue. 

The pre-parade assembly areas will vary. Bands will line up at New Albany Middle School. Characters and walkers will line up in the upper Union County Library parking lot. Antique cars will line up on King Street and the rear of the Union County School Administration building parking lot. Floats will line up at the city parking lot on Carter Avenue. Fire trucks and county vehicles will line up in the right lane of Main Street east of King Street facing west. Animals and livestock are lining up at Park-Along-The-River.

The grand marshal for this year’s parade will be Mrs. Hilda Hill, a retired teacher that taught in Union County for several years. Local educators will also be honored with special recognition for superintendents, college presidents, and retired teachers.

Five bands and a special group from Tupelo called “The Partlow Drummers” will be featured this year, along with first time performers, the Union County Band. Bands this year will be from Northeast Mississippi Community College, New Albany High School, New Albany Middle School and Beginner Bands.

There will also be floats from area churches and organizations, as well as walking groups and antique cars. Several pageant winners from across the county will also the ride in the parade. City and county elected officials will lead the parade through the parade route. 

Horses and a llama will also be featured in the parade. The llama, also known as Full Sail, was recently seen in the Pasadena Rose Parade and comes from local Shaddinger Llama farm, Magnolia Knoll. 

Santa Claus will be featured once again by waving to New Albany fans as his holiday-decorated float glides past. 

 The theme of this year’s parade is education and will focus on retired educators, current educators, and heads of schools and colleges.  

About Chris Elkins

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