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The Roanoke Rapids Fire Department will lead this year’s Christmas parade to honor one of their own — Battalion Chief Kevin Hawkins in his fight against mantle cell lymphoma.

Traditionally the city’s parks and recreation department names a grand marshal for the annual parade, which will be held December 2 at 2 p.m. along Roanoke Avenue.

“This year the Christmas parade is going to be in support of Kevin Hawkins to recognize him and help in his fight against mantle cell lymphoma,” parks and recreation Director John Simeon said today.

Chief Stacy Coggins said, “As chief of the fire department it’s our goal to recognize Chief Hawkins’ contributions to the fire department as well as the city. We don’t do this for recognition but it’s always great to recognize someone who has made such contributions.”

Said Simeon of Hawkins, “Kevin has always put his community first and supported his community. We feel it’s time to support Kevin and his fight with mantle cell lymphoma.”

Both Simeon and Coggins said plans are still being made on how the procession down the avenue will be presented as firefighters lead the parade.

Coggins said there will most likely be a banner recognizing the battalion’s chief fight and the lime green ribbons and shirts, the color of lymphoma awareness, are expected to be prevalent during the parade. “We want to educate people on mantle cell lymphoma as well as Kevin’s fight.”

Said Simeon: “We’ll be looking to the fire department for those ideas and how they will lead the Christmas parade.”

Hawkins could not immediately be reached for comment.

In the gallery: Firefighters conducted a Fire Prevention Month lesson at Belmont Elementary School this morning

Simeon said planning for the parade has been ongoing since June. “We have our website up thanks to the Computer Guy & Company. We’re starting to get inquiries about floats and have reached out to Shriners.”

Simeon said since many of the Shrine units participating in the parade come from the Downeast region, which was heavily impacted by Hurricane Florence, there may be less units than in past parades which he said is understandable. “Staff is trying to make this the best and most memorable Christmas parade possible. Since the first part of June staff has been working hard on our plans.”

The Christmas parade website can be found at this link.

More information on mantle cell lymphoma may be found at this link.