MOUNT VERNON — With weather forecasters calling for a sunny Saturday with temperatures in the upper 40s, the annual Christmas Parade is destined to bring all sorts of “characters” out on the streets of downtown Mount Vernon.
“I just love to watch the people,” said Mount Vernon News Publisher Kay Culbertson. “The crowd gets so excited — no matter how young or how old — they all smile and wave.”
From selecting a grand marshal and judges to measuring and numbering entry spaces at the staging area, as coordinator of the parade, the News is responsible for all the behind-the-scenes personnel and general organization that takes place leading up to the big day.
“We have people down at the staging area helping all the entries find their spots,” Culbertson said. “They also are the ones making sure everything gets started on time and that everyone is in the right order.”
Culbertson, along with News assistant publisher Liz Lutwick, put all the parade entries in the line up to give those watching along the city’s streets the best possible show.
“We want to mix everything up,” Culbertson said. “We make sure we don’t have two entries with music back to back. We also want to make sure we don’t have horses that can be spooked next to emergency vehicles. We just want everyone to have a good time.”
Keeping the parade entries, 100 of them, moving in the proper order is important not only for the general flow of the event but so parade announcers have the correct description to announce to the masses of people congregating on the corner of West Gambier and South Main streets.
From businesses and organizations to church and school groups, this year’s parade is jam-packed with exciting entries following the “Characters of Christmas” theme.
“We have a lot more businesses in the parade this year that have not been in in the past,” Culbertson said. “We have goats, llamas, horses and ponies. Some of the characters will be the Grinch, Cookie Monster, Charlie Brown and of course, Santa Claus.”
The Mount Vernon High School Marching Band and the Walhonding Rube Band have been long standing musical entries in the Christmas Parade.
“I don’t know what we’d do without those two bands,” Culbertson said. “We would really like to see more high school bands participate.”
Those lining West Gambier and South Main Street to take in the Christmas fun are encouraged to bring a bag to hold all of the sugary goodies that will be passed out and non-perishable food items that will be collected by cart pushers for Food for the Hungry.
Entries can start lining up as early as 8 a.m. on Saturday at the old football field on West Gambier Street where numbers and participation ribbons will be available from News employees.
Judging will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. but Culbertson encourages entries to be in place and prepared for judging by 11.
Entries are also reminded there are no parking spaces available on the football field so only the entry itself will be permitted in the staging area. For those participating as walking entries or simply need to be dropped off, the corner of Fountain and Gambier streets is a good spot. In addition, knowing the name on the entry form will be helpful when looking for directions at the staging area.
The parade kicks off at 1:15 and is expected to hit Main Street at 1:30 p.m.