ASHLAND — Thanksgiving hasn’t happened yet, but it’s starting to look a lot like Christmas in Ashland — and it’s all in preparation for one of the community’s favorite events of the year.
The Ashland Christmas Parade is fast approaching. The annual parade kicks off at 6 p.m. on Dec. 2, with the lighting of a giant tree and a fireworks display immediately following.
“I don’t like to pick favorite events, but this might be my favorite — but don’t tell the other events,” said Sandra Tunnell, executive director of Ashland Main Street, the parade’s organizer.
City crews worked Monday to hang around 40 holiday-themed banners, garland and red bows on downtown light poles. Giant ornaments are due to dazzle Foundation Plaza, along with some large candy canes, toy soldiers and a Nativity scene at Bicentennial Park by Dairy Queen.
“We typically always wait until after Thanksgiving (to decorate downtown),” said Ashland Mayor Matt Miller. “But we have accumulated so many decorations that we have to start earlier so they’re up by Dec. 2.”
This year’s parade theme is “Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child.”
Tunnell said Christmas is a magical, wonderful time for children. She said the board wanted to capture that magic with its theme this year.
“What do we remember as kids? What was the best part? We wanted to capture what makes it amazing for kids,” she said.
Expect to see floats decked out to capture the theme, along with window displays from downtown businesses. Each float and window display will be judged, with winner announced later in the season.
The parade is capped at 75 floats. Tunnell said it’s filling fast, with around 60 who have already signed up. The deadline to register your float is Nov. 24. Click here for details on how to do that.
The route starts at the intersection of Claremont Avenue, King Road and College Avenue. Floats will walk north along Claremont Avenue before turning right onto Main Street.
Staging, this year, will take place on both sides of College Avenue. That road will be closed to traffic from Center Street to Claremont Avenue.
When the parade finishes, Miller invites all spectators to Corner Park. That’s where the mayor, his wife, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus will light the Christmas tree.
“It’s our 40-foot genuine artificial pine,” Miller said, laughing. He said the tree features 20,000 “little twinkly lights.”
The city will shoot off fireworks immediately following the lighting of the tree.
The Life section is supported by Brethren Care Village in Ashland.