AJ to lead Dec. 4 parade
A special youth has been selected as grand marshal of inaugural Farragut Christmas Parade.
Farragut Middle School sixth-grader AJ Cucksey — who has bravely faced a number of medical issues yet played on the seventh-grade middle school football team that recently won the Knox County championship — will lead the parade when it kicks off at 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 4.
“When we were talking about a family-friendly parade, his name just popped into my mind,” said Mandy Kincaid, Farragut Primary School kindergarten teacher who co-chairs the Christmas parade committee with Mary Nussbaum. “AJ and my daughter, Emme, have been together since kindergarten, and I had his sister, Gia, in my class.
“They are such a wonderful family,” she added of AJ’s parents, John and Shannon, Gia and brother, Vadin.
“And he is a remarkable kid.”
AJ has been battling a form of childhood cancer, Pilocyctic astrocytoma, since being diagnosed at age 4, which causes non-malignant brain tumors.
The tumors are inoperable, and his condition is lifelong — and even now, his family is waiting to see if he will need more chemotherapy.
However, AJ’s family has rallied around him and encouraged him, as they have coined the motto #Cucksey Strong, which he has been determined to embody, even helping raise funds for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and bringing awareness to his condition — always with a smile.
“He is very excited and honored to be chosen,” John said.
The parade has 30 participants who will begin at Farragut intermediate School, then march to the FHS campus. They include: Concord Christian School Marching Band; Farragut youth cheerleaders; AJ’s Seventh-Grade championship team; FC Alliance soccer; FHS Flagship 3140 Robotics Team; FHS Marching Admirals band; FMS baseball team, boys basketball team, cheerleaders, Lady Admirals soccer team and swim and dive team; Girl Scout Troop No. 250; Tri-Star Twirl; St. John Neumann Catholic School cheerleaders; and Two Rivers Church.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will provide a strong finish as the final parade participants.
A Christmas Village, in the FHS parking lot, begins at 2:30 p.m., with vendor booths and food trucks lasting until 6 p.m.
Designated charity Compassion Closet will collect stocking stuffers at its booth.
Parking for parade and vendor participants is in the FHS junior lot. Parking for viewers and shoppers is in West End shopping center lot or across Kingston Pike from the high school in the Aldi/Kroger lots.