A sure sign of the holiday season is the annual Mount Airy Christmas Parade, which will roll in on Nov. 28 — when downtown merchants also will observe Small Business Saturday.
“It’s just a big kickoff to the holiday season for downtown,” Downtown Business Association (DBA) official Jennie Lowry said of the various activities scheduled that day.
The parade will be held in the morning, and after it ends the fun will continue — including a special appearance by Santa Claus and free music by a local ukulele group at a downtown gazebo.
Screenings of the PG-13 movie “The Holiday” also are planned at the Historic Earle Theatre from 4-8 p.m. that day.
The parade is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Nov. 28 and typically draws a huge crowd along its path. “Jingle Bell Hop” is the 2015 parade theme.
It is expected to last more than an hour, “and usually has over 100 entries,” Lowry said of the event organized by the Downtown Business Association.
“We have nine commercial floats, as far as sponsored floats,” she added. These will be joined by other entries representing school and civic groups, churches, sports teams, military organizations and other entities, with local officials also anticipated to be part of the procession.
“We have about 75 church, business and non-profit entries at this point,” Lowry said Wednesday.
Surry County Schools’ teachers of the year will be in the parade, with another notable entry a float by Grace Moravian Church highlighting Moravian holiday traditions.
Any veterans who would like to ride on floats sponsored by local military groups are asked to come to Veterans Memorial Park at 8 a.m. on Nov. 28.
“And we are still taking applications for the parade,” Lowry said earlier this week. “We have extended the application deadline for entries.” Applications are available online at mountairydowntown.org, by accessing the “Events & Festivals/Event Applications” tabs, and at the Mount Airy Visitors Center.
The DBA is hoping to finalize the parade lineup by this coming Tuesday, Lowry said.
The marching bands of Mount Airy and North Surry high schools also will participate in the event, along with other attractions such as antique and unusual vehicles and the traditional appearance by Santa Claus.
Judging by past parades, many of those riding in the procession will toss out candy to children.
The MAPS (Mount Airy Professionals of Surry) group will serve as honorary grand marshal for the parade.
Small Business Saturday
Immediately after the parade, the group known as MAUI (Mount Airy Ukulele Invasion) will perform a free Christmas concert at Carlos Jones Blue Ridge Park, the downtown gazebo located at the corner of North Main and West Oak streets.
When the concert is over, cocoa will be available at the gazebo, where Santa also is slated to put in an appearance fresh off his ride in the parade.
This year will bring a bigger focus on Small Business Saturday during Parade Day, according to Lowry.
Small Business Saturday is a nationally observed counterpart to Black Friday, the big shopping period after Thanksgiving which is slanted toward big-box retail stores.
The fact the Mount Airy Christmas Parade will occur on the same day as Small Business Saturday was not something the Downtown Business Association necessarily planned, although the group once changed the parade date to coincide with its observance, Lowry said.
“But it is a good fit,” she said of the two events.
Having the big crowd already in the central business district allows the opportunity to showcase the importance of small businesses in the community and for shoppers to stay around after the parade to take advantage of the unique products they offer.
More than 60 small businesses are located downtown, according to Lowry.
Store interiors and windows will be decorated for Christmas, and a festive atmosphere will prevail overall, organizers say.
“Let’s show our downtown businesses some love and shop small and buy local this Christmas season,” a promotional announcement from the DBA states.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.