WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.
A Williamsburg area holiday tradition will be supersized this year in honor of its 50th anniversary.
The Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance is celebrating the annual community Christmas parade’s semicentennial with “Our Golden Christmas,” a special presentation of the parade inspired by its predecessors over the past five decades.
In recognition of this significant anniversary, all participants in this year’s parade will choose a theme from the parades of the past 50 years on which to base their floats.
Parade-watchers can also expect to see the color gold used extensively in many of the floats in recognition of the “golden” anniversary.
“I think you’re going to be pretty dazzled by some of the floats in terms of their creativity,” Karen Riordan, president and CEO of the Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, said in an interview with 92.3 The Tide on Tuesday. “The level of creativity, energy and attention to detail is at its highest.”
Additionally, all Grand Marshalls of past parades have been invited back to march in the parade once again.
Also new this year is an updated parade route, which comes about as the result of crowd and traffic concerns in the parade’s previous starting location in Merchants Square. With the new ice skating attraction “Liberty’s Ice Pavilion” creating a hub of activity on Duke of Gloucester Street, parade planners decided to reverse the parade route to eliminate concerns about lining up in the midst of the attraction.
Riordan also believes the new route will have the added benefit of “letting people end in the heart of the action” once the parade wraps up, citing the numerous shopping. dining and entertainment options in proximity to the route’s end.
Though the 50th anniversary edition of the Christmas parade has several twists, onlookers can also expect to see the staples of the parade they have come to know and love: rousing performances by area marching bands, festive floats from various organizations within the community and even an appearance from Santa Claus.
“I am so excited to be celebrating the Christmas Parade’s 50th anniversary,” said Naomi Flythe, service representative with the Alliance and the staff liaison to the Christmas Parade Committee. “[The parade planners] have gotten to know the participants personally and their enthusiasm and community involvement are just a couple of the reasons the parades are so joyful.”
The parade will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the intersection of Richmond Road and Brooks Street and continue through Merchants Square and finally onto Henry Street. Affected roads will be closed to traffic a half hour before the festivities begin, so both participants and onlookers are encouraged to plan accordingly.
“We’re looking forward to seeing everyone Saturday morning with bells on,” Riordan said.