By MATT CRANE
Greater Starkville Development Partnership officials announced format changes to this year’s 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 parade’s Polar Express theme.
“In the past, organizations and businesses have worked hard to put together floats, but some might not have decorations at all,” she said. “It took away from the atmosphere and appeal of the Christmas parade.”
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.
“This year we are encouraging and requiring all organizations to ride in — and decorate — the float unless they are a marching band, dance club or another unit that makes sense for them to walk,” she said. “For 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 that’s the essence of what they do.”
Gregory said she is hopeful these changes will inspire the a greater cohesiveness for the parade.
“We feel like these changes will enhance the festivity of the event,” she said. “We want to make it a memorable event and get back to that old tradition of having a community Christmas parade.”
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.
“Applications are due Friday by 5 p.m. at the GSDP offices,” she said. “Anyone needing a registration form can download one from http://www.visit.starkville.org.”
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.
“We’ll have the same route as last year,” she said. “The 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.”
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.
“We love working with the TV station and we are so appreciative of their efforts in documenting the parade,” she said. “The live stream will be great so people that are elderly, disabled or can’t come out will have the opportunity to participate.”
Gregory said she looks forward to a wonderful crowd for the parade and is excited to continue this Starkville tradition.
“The Christmas parade has been going on for many years in Starkville,” she said. “It’s a favorite tradition of many in the community and we’re getting to celebrate that community and the holiday season.”