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Picher Streets Filled With Life Once More For The Holidays - KOAM TV 7

Picher Streets Filled With Life Once More For The Holidays

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    The City of Picher, Oklahoma may be no more, but today, you wouldn't have known it - as crowds lined Connell Avenue for the annual Picher-Cardin Christmas parade.
The Picher Christmas parade has a simple message...
Group 1: "Welcome home!"
Group 2: "Welcome home!"
Group 3: "Welcome home!
Because this is the only time former citizens can return home, and have it feel like home.
Anna Woods, 1942 Picher resident: "It's wonderful, these people love each other, and stand beside each other and support each other, Picher people are unique people, they, they are very unique."
What makes them so unique -- they were forced out of a home they didn't want to leave, as lead contamination made Picher one of the largest EPA Superfund sites.

In September of 2009, Picher was officially unincorporated as a town.
But that hasn't stopped all the fun.
And it hasn't put a damper on the spirit of Picher.
Frank Wood, 1943-1963 Picher resident: "The pride of this town still reverberates in the people who grew up here and lived here."
Lester Ward, former resident: "It's just amazing all of the different people that come out, most of them have lived here at one time or another, it's just a wonderful, wonderful thing."
The parade had officially about 50 entries, but an estimated *90* participated.
And for about thirty minutes, the population of Picher went from 20...to 2,000 cheering fans.
Frank Wood, met, for the first time in his life, fellow Picher resident, Jamie Mathia.
While neither of them can live here now, they both shared stories long after the parade ended.
While Frank lived in Picher during it's 'hey-day', Jamie, unfortunately, saw the beginning of the end.
Jamie Mathia, former resident: "For years and years it kept getting, slowly, people started moving out, things started closing, and stuff like that, and it's like...this was a great town at one time or another, now...look at it.  you drive through it, and that's it."
After the parade...the crowds load up, pull out, and Picher is left quiet...and empty...until next year...
when the bands and floats will fill the streets again.
But the streets will carry the memories of this day -- and many others like it, for years to come.
    This is the third year the Coming Home for Christmas group has organized the parade.
    Officials say the parade keeps growing each year.

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Chris Warner
Reporter

A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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