GIBSON CITY – Last year’s Lighted Christmas Parade had record attendance, and organizers are hoping this year’s lineup of activities before the parade, Saturday, Nov. 21, will draw even bigger crowds.
“We’ve kicked up the activities downtown,” said parade chairman Susie Tongate. “We have a band, more activities in Santa’s Village and Santa visiting with children before the parade—all things that should bring more people downtown.”
Beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday, SugarTree Band will perform in the heated tent on Ninth Street between Hood’s Ace Hardware and the American Legion. Their performance will feature a mixture of “light country, classic rock and holiday favorites,” Tongate said.
Santa will also be in the tent, beginning at 4 p.m., to visit with children before the parade.
There will also be a number of other things for children to do. GCMS Elementary School teachers Nicole McNary and Caitlin Heap will lead the fun, which includes stringing popcorn and cranberries, making homemade ornaments and decorating cookies.
The opportunity to see their teacher dressed as a reindeer has many of McNary’s second graders counting the days until the parade.
“They overheard me talking about it with my co-teacher and have assured me that they will be in attendance,” McNary said.
There will also be an opportunity to get a jump-start on Christmas shopping. A number of vendors will be located in the tent and will be selling a wide range of items.
“We have a good amount of vendors this year,” Tongate said. “There are quite a bit more than previous years.”
Downtown businesses will also be open extended hours, and the Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a window decorating contest for merchants.
Local restaurants will be open, and food can be purchased from vendors downtown.
There are already a number of entries for the parade, which steps off at 6:30 p.m. The parade begins at County Market and travels down First Street. It turns on Sangamon Avenue and travels through the downtown.
“We have some new entries and some who haven’t been in the parade for a while,” Tongate said. “There are also more religious entries this year.”
There is still time to put together an entry for this year’s parade.
Entries are needed in the categories of commercial float, farm implement/tractor/commercial vehicle, organization float, individual/family/golf cart/auto, religious and rental (not judged). This year's theme is "Home for the Holidays."
The overall winner will receive $300 in Gibson Bucks, and $75 in Gibson Bucks will be awarded to the winner in each category.
Entries will be accepted until 5 p.m. the day of the event, but participants are encouraged to register in advance. Entry forms are available at the Moyer District Library and on the City of Gibson website, gibsoncityillinois.com. You may also call or email Janna Friday at 217-784-4233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The one wild card for the parade each year is the weather. On Monday, the National Weather Service was predicting cooler temperatures and a chance of rain or snow showers Saturday.
“The weather has been relatively warm,” Tongate said. “It’s supposed to cool off enough to make it feel like Christmas.”
“There might be a few snowflakes in the morning,” said committee member Jayne Tjardes. “That will help set the mood.”