Mitchell’s Parade of Lights canceled this yearOther festivities planned to replace winter event.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
The Parade of Lights has gone dark.
The annual holiday event will not be held this year, a committee charged with organizing the parade decided Tuesday.
“We are going to take a different route this year,” said Darla McGuire, the chairwoman of the committee. “Maybe it’s something that has run its course. But we’re excited about going a different route this year.”
A tree lighting ceremony in downtown will likely be the center of this year’s holiday kickoff, and other events are being planned as well.
The downtown parade was first held in 2003 when the U.S. Capitol Holiday Tree came through town on its way from Idaho to Washington, D.C. The parade also served as a way to honor the city’s 125th anniversary in 2006.
It was formally dubbed the Parade of Lights in 2008. By then it was at its height, with as many as 53 entries in the parade in the last few years.
But that number slumped to 33 last year, McGuire said, and this summer and fall, organizers started to wonder if the community wanted to see the nighttime holiday parade. They contacted 2011 participants and did a survey of chamber members.
“We didn’t get a very good response back,” McGuire said. “Which is understandable. It’s hard for businesses, the lack of volunteers, the money that it costs to have a float, the time of the year and paying staff and the costs.”
The Parade of Lights was held on the Monday before Thanksgiving, which this year is Nov. 19. McGuire said the committee may stick to that date for a different kind of celebration this year.
“Right now, we are looking at the same date,” she said. “After those dates, with other things going on in the Mitchell area, it might be tough. I believe that is a good date.” Not all the traditions are being canceled. Santa Claus will be at the Corn Palace, chili will be served and other events will be offered. A meeting is set to discuss plans for the event this year and plans will be announced in the coming days. To get involved, or for more information, call McGuire at 996-9891, Ext. 1.