Simmons to head Christmas parade | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | December 2, 2015 3:36 pm
Last Updated: December 7, 2015 at 4:14 pm
By GEORGE SALSBERRY
Horace Simmons, sitting on his Henderson Street front porch one day last week, said he was “shocked and surprised” when he learned he had been named the honorary parade marshal for the Walterboro Christmas Parade.
“I appreciate it. I never was in anything like this before,” he said.
Back to the porch. “This is my knowledge seat — I sit here and get knowledge every day,” Simmons said.
If you spend any time on Simmons’ front porch, expect to have the conversation punctuated by passing motorists honking a greeting to Simmons as they pass by, and interrupted by greetings from people stopping by to say hello.
“People come to me for this and that. It is worth talking to them, worth doing things for them,” the 73-year-old honoree said.
When the Palmetto Breeze was considering eliminating its route through Colleton County because of possible cuts in county funding several years ago, those who counted on the public transit to travel to work in Beaufort County came to the porch seeking assistance. Simmons helped them take their plight to county council, and the funding remained in place.
When local officials were seeking ways to influence residents to fully participate in the U.S. Census, Simmons enlisted.
When the county’s Democrats were preparing for a special election to name a candidate to fill the unexpired term of the late Floyd Buckner, the candidates came to Simmons’ front yard to conduct a forum.
When the city was grappling with the aftermath of a shooting that claimed three lives, Simmons gathered governmental officials and law enforcement officers to his front yard to discuss ways to curb the violence.
Bubba Trippe, chairman of the Rice Festival Committee, which organizes the annual Walterboro Christmas Parade, said the committee members decided to name Simmons the parade marshal because he has been “such an advocate for the community.”
Simmons tries so hard to be a positive influence in the community, Trippe explained. “He is a good guy. We need more like him,” Trippe said.
For over two decades, Simmons has headed the Community Action Line Against Violence.
In that capacity, Simmons has touched the lives of hundreds of Walterboro youngsters. “I told someone I have 900 children, all of them are mine.”
Children that he guided when they were seven and eight, Simmons said, “are grown now and have kids of their own.” Seeing his children succeed, “makes me feel good, makes me feel like a millionaire.”
Over the years, Simmons said, he strived to teach the children manners and respect.
He stressed having his children finish high school, “I told them to get much education as you can. If you have to leave Walterboro for that education, fine. But come back and build up Walterboro.”
That’s what Simmons did.
The youngest of 15 children, Simmons grew up in the White Hall area.
When it became time to find work, he relocated to Baltimore, where other family members moved previously.
“I worked in construction. I loved to work outdoors because that was where the money was,” Simmons explained.
From there, Simmons moved on to New York City. He did construction, drove a truck. Then Simmons, his brother and another man started a painting business.
When his brother died, Simmons said, “It took it out of me.”
Back home for a visit, Simmons said, his mother Mary told him it was time to come back to Colleton County. “I had to do what Mommy said.”
Back in Colleton County, he spent some time logging. “It was a good job, but dangerous,” Simmons said.
He worked logging for three or four years and then went to work with the city, driving a garbage truck.
While working for the city, he fell and injured his back. “That was the end of my working days,” he said.
That is not exactly true. Simmons was done working to fill his wallet. Instead he began working full-time to make Walterboro a better place to live.
At the beginning of the year, Simmons’ dedication to his community and his stewardship of the local organization was recognized by S.C. Rep Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, who presented Simmons with one of the 16th annual Picture Awards.
Gilliard presents the Picture Awards annually to residents of Charleston and surrounding communities who strive to improve the quality of life for residents. Individuals selected are recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty.
Simmons will lead a parade of at least 60 units. Trippe said that there is still time to join the line of march.
The parade will begin at 6 p.m., starting at The Colleton Center on Hampton Street, then going down Hampton to Washington, then to Neyle and North Miller streets back to The Colleton Center.
The parade will be preceded by Walterboro’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the City Hall at 5 p.m.