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By MATT CRANE
Greater Starkville Development Partnership officials announced format changes to this yearâs Christmas parade, which begins 6 p.m. on Nov. 26.
GSDP Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Tourism Development Jennifer Gregory said the primary requirement of parade participants this is year is every float must be decorated to fit the paradeâs Polar Express theme.
âIn the past, organizations and businesses have worked hard to put together floats, but some might not have decorations at all,â she said. âIt took away from the atmosphere and appeal of the Christmas parade.â
Gregory said along with tighter decoration guidelines, the GSDP will limit the number of walking units during the parade in an effort to encourage more participation and parade appeal for the festivities.
âThis year we are encouraging and requiring all organizations to ride in â and decorate â the float unless they are a marching band, dance club or another unit that makes sense for them to walk,â she said. âFor instance, the Relay for Life team will be decorating a float that portrays our theme, but they will also have cancer survivors walking in front because thatâs the essence of what they do.â
Gregory said she is hopeful these changes will inspire the a greater cohesiveness for the parade.
âWe feel like these changes will enhance the festivity of the event,â she said. âWe want to make it a memorable event and get back to that old tradition of having a community Christmas parade.â
Gregory said with approximately 20 participants currently registered to attend, the GSDP is encouraging organizations and business to be a part of this special community event.
âApplications are due Friday by 5 p.m. at the GSDP offices,â she said. âAnyone needing a registration form can download one from http://www.visit.starkville.org.â
Gregory said roads will be begin closing at 4 p.m. on Nov. 26 with participants lining up at 5 p.m. to begin the parade at 6 p.m.
âWeâll have the same route as last year,â she said. âThe parade will start on Russell Street then head down Lampkin, turning up on Montgomery before heading west on Main Street and ending at First United Methodist Church.â
Gregory said a rain date is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 27.
Gregory said WOBV Channel 5 will record the parade to be played throughout the holiday season with the new addition of a live online stream.
âWe love working with the TV station and we are so appreciative of their efforts in documenting the parade,â she said. âThe live stream will be great so people that are elderly, disabled or canât come out will have the opportunity to participate.â
Gregory said she looks forward to a wonderful crowd for the parade and is excited to continue this Starkville tradition.
âThe Christmas parade has been going on for many years in Starkville,â she said. âItâs a favorite tradition of many in the community and weâre getting to celebrate that community and the holiday season.â