By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON — Before you know it, they’ll be here — the holidays. This year, Anderson’s planning to get everyone in the spirit by kicking the holidays off with a Christmas parade.
“We’re trying to get an old tradition started again,” said Frank Owens, Anderson’s director of municipal development. “We used to have one back in the 50s and 60s.” Owens, at 45, is too young to recall the old holiday event, but he heard about it after he floated the idea of a holiday parade.
Now, decades later, the 2013 Christmas parade is set for Friday, Nov. 22, starting near Anderson’s City Hall. Mayor Kevin Smith will light the city’s official Christmas tree around 5 p.m., and the parade will progress from there down Meridian Street in the early evening darkness.
“We’re hoping people will illuminate their vehicles or floats,” said Owens. He’s enthusiastically reaching out to businesses, schools, churches and organizations to take part in the holiday fun. “We want it to be a festive time for everybody,” he said.
Owens is getting the word out now in the hopes that people get excited about the parade and dream up some great entries for it.
“We just want people to participate, to get the community to come together,” said Owens. “We’re just trying to create the spirit of Christmas.”
Plans also call for cocoa or milk and cookies for the kids at stands set up along the route.
Owens said that Santa and Mrs. Claus plan to attend Anderson’s parade, riding in a sleigh provided by local attorney Max Howard. At the parade’s end, there will be an opportunity for children to get their photos taken with Santa.
Adding to the excitement will be a zip line near Anderson Town Center.
“It’s something unusual, just to get everybody in the spirit and have fun,” said Owens.
Owens is encouraging downtown businesses to decorate, even contacting owners of vacant storefronts about getting them dressed up for the holidays.
A stash of city street light decorations from days gone by was found in the old Bickel Bicycle Shop building. Owens said that the building’s owner, Jerry Alexander, found the lights in good condition.
“For 60-plus years old, they are in amazing condition. We're going to clean them up and try to rehang them,” said Owens.
For the evening of the parade along Meridian Street, Owens noted, “I’d love to have it just completely lit up.”
Owens is sending letters out to businesses countywide to get them involved in the holiday decorating and parade. Parade entry is accomplished with an application and a $10 fee. The fee will go toward buying more Christmas decorations to build on the new tradition in years to come.
“My goal is to make downtown Anderson look like a winter wonderland when we’re done with it,” said Owens.
For more information or an application, contact Owens at 648-6057.
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