Gee is given four whistles from Steven Gay.
Gee led his own parade with his signature high kicking, marching style.
Gee waved to passersby Friday afternoon in front of the Greer Fire Department. Drivers acknowledge Gee by tooting their vehicles' horn or calling his name.
Lonnie “Gee” McGee was not only given a parade. He led it.
Friday was Gee’s final night as a resident of Greer. Two Greer Police Department (GPD) personnel will take Gee to Clinton Saturday morning where he will reside at a residence serviced by the Charles Lea Center.
Gee’s aunt, his caretaker, has been diagnosed with cancer and will no longer be able to provide the daily attention for him. The GPD received the message Tuesday night that Gee would be leaving the next morning for Clinton.
By mid-morning Wednesday the GPD planned for the parade and to give Gee a sendoff the city has never before bestowed anyone.
“The deal the city had to make is that we would take him down there Saturday,” Sgt. Jeff Smith said. “We only had a short time to put this on.”
Gee was honored before Friday’s game with the Greer students and spectators giving him several rousing ovations. Mayor Rick Danner presented Gee with a key to the city. Gee was also given a Greer football jersey with the number one, an all-weather jacket and four whistles on a lanyard.
Gee was all smiles, as he usually is, and led the band in the National Anthem and the Greer’s alma mater.
“Can you imagine the sense of pride he has leading the band,” Danner said earlier this week.
Gee had dinner at the Clock restaurant Friday. Smith and Ballenger, who took Gee there, were taken aback by the adulation shown Gee. “Honestly, it was like a movie star had walked in,” Smith said.
“It was unbelievable. When Gee walked in, people came up to him to hug him, take pictures and pat him on the back. He is Greer’s sensation.”
Smith said Gee is a treasure that only comes along in a lifetime. “(Gee) has a big heart. He loves Greer and, because he loves Greer, Greer has come to love him. I don’t know if bittersweet is the right word. It’s a sad day, but for Gee they this one is for him.”
Gee’s whimsical personality has been contagious.
“Deep down inside, there is a certain amount of us inside him,” Danner said, explaining the affection shown Gee. “It’s part of who we are. It’s what is unique and gives us a sense of community.”
“You saw older people, infants, younger elementary age kids, people of all ages at the parade cheering Gee,” Smith said. “Even the kids in the band stopped once and started chanting ‘Gee, Gee, Gee’. I have been doing this for 22 years and this is a highlight for me.”
Smith said Gee will be back to lead the Christmas parade. “Gee has been the Christmas parade,” Smith said. “I have no way of measuring it, but I would like to know how many came to the Christmas parade just to see him.”
Smith may find that out on Dec. 6.