VALDOSTA – On Wednesday, December 5, 2018, Valdosta Mayor John Gayle, city officials, Valdosta Fire Chief Freddie Broome – and firemen with their truck – made their annual appearance for the Mayor’s Motorcade at Parkwood Development Center on Lee Street.
“When I first became Mayor we went over to Southwestern in Thomasville and did this, but after they shut down we were going to Columbus and Macon,” Mayor Gayle commented. “It was part of the Georgia Municipal Association. I thought it would be a good idea to do this locally. The kids and adults love it, really appreciate it. We’re just glad to do it.”
Susan Boone, Parkwood’s administrator, said the clients look forward to the event every year. “Whenever they see us setting up, they start getting excited,” Boone said. “It really touches us, it’s so heartwarming. We’ve become their family and it’s great to see them light up.”
Parkwood Developmental Center is a privately-owned Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disability (ICF/IID), with a staff that encourages the clients to be as independent as possible.
This Christmas, like the two before it, are one of the major highlights for the Center’s clients.
Mayor Gayle, Chief Broom, Public Information Officer Ashlyn Becton, Valdosta firemen and other guests in attendance were charmed by the reactions of the clients as they received gifts, passed out by the firemen.
They were met with another local luminary – a man who calls himself the “Mayor of Parkwood,” David Shuman. A tenured client at Parkwood, he clearly runs the show up there, so excited to see the firemen and the Mayor and all the presents around the tree.
(PHOTO: “Mayor of Parkwood” David Shuman)
Given a Hot Wheels toy, though excited, he was determined to get the one he wanted. “A Mustang!” he erupted, bounding around the other clients and guests looking for a Hot Wheels Mustang. He wound up, happy, with a Camaro.
After all the clients received their gifts they trailed outside merrily to see the firetrucks waiting out in the parking lot.
“I look forward to this every year,” commented Valdosta Fire Chief Freddie Broome, all decked out in Christmas-inspired attire. “I love getting dressed up like this. Giving someone something to smile about is what it’s all about. Knowing you inspired someone’s life makes a difference.”