MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- When the Murfreesboro Christmas parade heads down East Main Street this weekend, this year's grand marshal will be a local resident who helps the homeless on a daily basis.
Murfreesboro resident Christine Huddleston, who is the founder and director of Room In The Inn on West Main Street, will serve as this year’s grand marshal.
She got the local homeless program going in Murfreesboro almost 25 years ago.
At that time, seven churches offered their facilities for overnight housing. Christine Huddleston and her late husband, Clyde Huddleston, not only coordinated the program, but they were also the primary source of financial support as well.
In fact, that was true up until his death about 10 years ago. Room In The Inn was growing dramatically by then, and the city of Murfreesboro generously allowed her to use a government-owned structure. Now, as the program has grown, Christine Huddleston still oversees the operation and volunteers.
Because she is the director of this nonprofit, people are amazed when they learn that it is totally gratis ‑‑ a gift from her.
She helps daily and has made a difference in the lives of many. She has been invited to celebrate the graduation of a Room In The Inn alumni each commencement at Middle Tennessee State University for more than 20 years.
Some of the current Room In The Inn volunteers formerly were clients of the program. It made a difference in their lives, and they are giving back.
At 81, Christine Huddleston said, “I'm healthy and thankful to be able to continue to see that Room In The Inn stays alive to serve our community.”
She will be waving at the more than 50,000 people who are expected to line the parade route on Sunday, Dec. 8. It starts at 2 p.m. at the intersection of Middle Tennessee Boulevard and East Main Street and wraps up on Walnut Street.
Parade coordinator Angie Walker said this year’s theme is “Family Traditions,” and that has attracted more floats and musical entries than ever before.