HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Growing up, you might have been told to be good, or else you would get a lump of coal in your stocking on Christmas morning. Organizers of the annual Hazard Christmas Parade want to make that a good thing.
The Christmas season is a happy time for many people in Eastern Kentucky, but it can be difficult if you don't have a job. Edmond Stidham is a coal miner who has who has worked in the mines for 22 years. He was laid off in March and has since lost his home.
"It leaves a lot of heartache, because you're used to a caliber of lifestyle, and all of the sudden you're told that you have to settle for this," he explained.
As the holiday season approaches, Stidham says he's worried he will not be able to afford Christmas at all. His story is shared by many coal miners this time of year, but organizers of the Hazard Christmas Parade are trying to spread some holiday cheer. This year's parade is being called "Coal for Christmas" and will feature coal-themed floats and colorful hard hats for children. Organizers say they want to show miners the community stands with them.
"I think anything we can do to lift their spirits, with this Christmas parade I think more than anything I would like to just give them something to smile about," said parade chairwoman Tammi Gorman.
The parade will kick off in front of Hazard City Hall, winding its way through town before ending up back where it started. Parade organizers say they hope the event raises awareness about the coal issue.
"We have so many coal miners laid off right now, and I just want the children to understand the importance of coal in this area and what it does for our community," said Gorman.
Gorman says people should remember coal miners year round, and not just during Christmas.
The Christmas Parade will take place November 17th at 4 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend.