Lakeland 10-year-old 'excited' to be Christmas parade grand marshal

- It is a pretty big honor to be the grand marshal of Lakeland’s Christmas parade, especially if you are just 10 years old. Laney Kirkpatrick has that honor this year. She will ride in one of the lead cars as the parade snakes through the downtown streets in front of an estimated 40,000 spectators.

Laney told FOX 13 that she’s “excited” for the event.

“Fine and cool,” she offered.

Laney was chosen as the 2018 grand marshal because she won an essay contest. She had to answer the question: How would you decorate a float, based on a children’s story?

That was an easy one for Laney. She based her writing on the book her mom began reading to her when she started losing her hair at age 3. Ever since then, she has been nearly bald for an unknown reason.

The book she chose is a classic: Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling.” In it, a swan is born to a family of ducks.

Laney still remembers the message to this day.

“You can be beautiful just the way you are,” she said.

“God doesn’t make anything that’s not beautiful,” added her mom, Andrea Kirkpatrick. “It is really hard to be different. But sometimes I think you are chosen to be different so you can do something special in life.”

Being the grand marshal this year is certainly a great start.

The Lakeland Christmas Parade is Thursday night at 7 p.m.

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