Mark your calendars for Tuesday, Dec. 8, as an eagerly-awaited holiday event returns to the downtown Greenville. The Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce (GACOC) has slated its annual Christmas Parade to kick off downtown at 6:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “It’s a Wonderful Life in the Camellia City.”
GACOC director Tracy Salter said this year’s theme was thought of by City of Greenville horticulturist, Jennifer Stringer. “The movie itself, “It’s a Wonderful Life” which came out in the1940s, started out ‘doom and gloom’ with the main character putting so much thought into all the negative things going on in life until his guardian angel revealed to him just how different life would be for his family and community if it hadn’t been for all of his good deeds over the years,” Salter said.
“This year has been somewhat “gloomy” in the wake of COVID-19. Not only has it effected the health of many of our friends, neighbors and members of our community, but many community events and happenings have been canceled, and many of our local businesses have had to reevaluate and adjust hours of operation, employee work schedules, crowd capacity, and so much more,” said Salter.
Salter added, “So when Jennifer told me about the idea and her vision of the theme, I thought it was an excellent choice – 2020 has been hard on many of the people, places and events in our community, but at the end of the day thanks to the seamless work of our city and county officials, the creative minds and tenacious work ethic of our local business owners and employees, and the unwavering willingness of community members willing to volunteer their time and efforts to make our community a great place to live, work and play….it truly is A Wonderful Life in the Camellia City.”
There will also be other activities before the parade in Confederate Park, including the official lighting of the City’s Christmas tree and the opportunity to meet jolly old Saint Nick himself and get photos taken with him.
“Park festivities begin at 5 p.m. with pictures with Santa, Christmas Music and Concessions, followed by the annual tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. and the parade at 6:30 p.m.”
“The parade is an annual tradition and really brings fun and fellowship to downtown Greenville. It’s the second Tuesday in December – everyone has gotten back in the swing of things after the Thanksgiving holiday, and it’s an opportunity to enjoy the official lighting of the tree in the park, visit with Santa, view the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations and enjoy the beautiful parade lineup,” said Salter.
Applications for parade entries are now available on the Chamber’s website and Salter encourages everyone to go ahead and get those forms in soon.
“It takes numerous people to organize and put on a parade, and the sooner we get in the entry applications, the easier it is for us to streamline the process. So—don’t wait until the last minute, folks,” Salter stressed. The deadline for parade applications is Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Since it is nighttime parade, all those entering are reminded that not only music, but also lights should be on all floats and vehicles entered. There will be first and second place prizes for the best-decorated float and vehicle categories.
Salter also stressed the importance of being creative in designing a float that they feel best represents the theme. “This year’s theme is wonderful,” Salter said. “There are so many things that make our community “A Wonderful Life” – pick your favorite and be sure your float or vehicle entry represents that concept. We want to see lots of lights and colorful displays of decorations that highlight our community.”
“We also want everyone to remember that safety is paramount and we require walkers on either side of the floats and vehicles entered. Having walkers in place is the only way you are allowed to throw candy from your parade entry as well, and there is no additional fee for these walkers,” said Salter. “We also want to remind everyone those driving trucks, tractors, off-road vehicles or cars, must be at least 18 with a valid driver’s license.”
All vehicles parked downtown will be asked to move off Commerce Street by 5 p.m., to allow parade lineup and activities in the park to begin.
And there’s one more important reminder Salter stressed.
“There is only one Santa, no exceptions, and he will be in the park before the parade and then on the big red fire truck at the end of the parade,” said Salter.
“We want to make sure everyone is mindful of the “Santa” rule – let’s not have any pretend Santas on or around any of the float entries.”
For more details on the upcoming parade or to request an application, contact the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce by phone at 334-382-3251 or visit them online at www.greenvillealchamber.com.