Parade of Lights returns to downtown to kick off Christmas season
Entries still welcome for Nov. 30 event
With Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, Christmas season is in full swing in Mitchell.
“We actually just got a couple more entries today,” said Ashley Endres, director of Mitchell Main Street & Beyond.
The event, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, will see a number of floats make their way down Main Street from 1st Avenue to 9th Avenue. The annual parade features many floats based on a Christmas holiday theme constructed by area businesses and civic organizations. The theme for the parade this year is “Winter Fun - Sleighs, Sleds and Snow!”
The parade has been held for several years and always serves as a festive occasion that helps kick off the Christmas season, Endres said. She said there are currently about 30 floats registered to take part, which is on par with an average year for the event, according to Endres.
Parade participation suffered somewhat last year when the coronavirus pandemic was still in full swing, but numbers appear to be on the upswing as people feel more comfortable gathering in numbers again, especially for an outdoor event like the Parade of Lights.
Couple that with a nice forecast for Tuesday, and you have the formula for the parade to return to something more akin to its past glory.
“The weather is looking really good going into next week, and I think that’s why we’re getting these latest entries,” Endres said. “I’m hoping that everything continues to be very good with the weather. You want that snow because our theme is snow, but it can snow next week.”
The forecast for Mitchell for Tuesday indicates a high of 52 degrees, partly cloudy skies and a 9 mile per hour wind.
With nine blocks of parade route to be blocked off for floats and spectators, Endres figures as many as 2,000 will show up for the event in a good year. And she expects the number of participating floats will climb right up to the start of the parade, something organizers generally anticipate and try to accommodate as best they can.
Float entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges who will bestow prizes on their top picks of the parade. There are a total of six awards - two each in the small business category for businesses with less than 20 employees, the large business category and the community organization category. The two awards in each category are for the best use of lights and the best use of theme.
The sponsor for this year’s prize plaques is TK Electric.
The parade won’t be the only highlight Tuesday night. With the Corn Palace at about the center point of the parade route, spectators will also be able to take in the Christmas at the Palace , which will precede the parade beginning at 4:30 p.m. and will run to 6:30 p.m. Cocoa and cookies will be available, and there will be opportunities for children to have their picture taken with Santa Claus.
The Mitchell Municipal Band will perform from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and volunteers from the Mitchell Public Library will be reading stories.
The evening will officially kick off the Christmas season in Mitchell, with several other seasonal events planned in the upcoming weeks, including the 28th annual Christmas Shopping for Kids event Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Masonic Hall on Fifth Avenue. The event provides a unique opportunity for kids age 12 and under to shop for their family and friends for the holiday season. There will be helpers greeting the shoppers at the door, and the items purchased - priced at $10 or less - will also be wrapped at the event.
That event runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Parade of Lights is a great way to kick off that holiday feeling, thanks to the colorful and festive nature of the event, Endres said. It brings people out and gets them thinking about Christmas, shopping and all the fun that goes with the holidays.
“I think everyone enjoys seeing the Christmas lights and the creativity that each float has and offers,” Endres said.
It should all feed into the spirit of the holidays while also promoting local Mitchell businesses, Endres said.
“Once the parade is here and Thanksgiving is past, that’s when we’re truly into the Christmas spirit,” she said.
Those interested in entering a float can contact Mitchell Main Street & Beyond at 605-990-4500 sending email to email@example.com or visiting the organization’s Facebook page . Entry forms can be found on the organization website www.mitchellmainstreet.com .