Parade, tree lighting bring holiday cheer
Santa Claus is coming to Englewood and the Civic Center Christmas tree lights will be turned on Dec. 3, but not at the same time.
The reborn Englewood Holiday Parade at 10 a.m. will bring Santa to town and the tree lighting is the same day with the ceremony scheduled to start at 5 p.m.
The idea of resurrecting the Englewood parade was suggested last year by Rosiemarie Cabral, a member of the chamber board. Cabral, now president of the chamber board of directors, is again organizing the parade that will begin at 10 a.m. at South Acoma Street and Englewood Parkway. The route heads west along the parkway to the Englewood Civic Center.
Streets along the parade route will be closed temporarily but will reopen once the parade has passed.
“We have had great support from the city and from the business community to make the parade happen again,” Cabral said. “The city council waived about $1,600 in fees for us and donations from the business community have helped pay for the other expenses associated with the parade.”
She said there also seems to more interest in being part of the parade this year. She said just about all of last year’s entries are back plus there are additional entries that should make the parade about 50 percent larger than 2010.
As the parade concludes, the Englewood Civic Center will become the focus of the continuing activities.
Once the parade is complete, Cabral said activities will begin with a ceremony honoring all veterans as the color guard escorts a wreath that will be placed at the Purple Heart Memorial located in the Civic Center piazza.
Then the focus will shift back to the amphitheater stage, where school choirs and a dance troop will be providing continuous free entertainment. Additionally, there will be about 25 vendors located around the piazza offering a variety of products from food to gift items.
About 4:30 p.m. the crowds will move over near the base of the Christmas tree, where Mayor Randy Penn will preside over the ceremonial lighting of the tree at 5 p.m.
Each year, the city erects a 35-foot artificial tree and decorates it for the holidays with thousands of tiny lights as well as other decorations. In keeping with the theme, the other trees surrounding the piazza and lining Englewood Parkway are also decked out in holiday lights.
Cabral said the idea to revive the the parade was her suggestion on ways to build on Englewood’s tradition of having a lot of great holiday activities in December.
“There always seemed to be holiday events in Englewood. One of the big events in for many years was the Englewood Holiday Parade,” she said. ‘When the parade was no longer held, the city celebrated the holidays with events like Santa arrive by light rail, and the tree lighting ceremony,” she said. “I suggested we bring back a shorter parade that includes Santa’s arrival in the community plus have entertainment and activities at the amphitheater that would be tied in with the tree lighting.”
Englewood appeared to embrace the celebration last year. Residents lined the streets and cheered for those in the parade and, after the parade, bands and choirs performed to sizable crowds plus a lot of people stayed around for the tree lighting.
Bringing back the parade seemed a good idea since parades have long been a big part of Englewood history.
According to the history books, there was a sizable parade as part of the first Englewood Days held on Sept. 12, 1930 and there was very special parade down Broadway that had been painted gold for the occasion on Englewood’s Golden Jubilee in 1953.
The parade that began in 1953 and was associated with a free pancake breakfast was held annually until about 1960.
The Englewood Holiday Parade was started by the Cinderella City Merchants Association in the late 1960s and was held in late November event to bring Santa to the mall. In the early 1970s, the merchants’ association announced they could no longer financially support the parade. The city stepped in and took over planning and putting on the parade.
Conversation about withdrawing city support for the parade began about 1995 and was triggered by the fact reports indicated staff time and other expenses added up to more than $25,000 a year.
Starting that year, was an appeal for support from residents and the business community. There were volunteers and some support but the city was still paying most of the costs to put on the parade.
The council decided in 2003 that, after that year, the city would no longer be spending thousands of dollars to put on the parade. A call went out for community financial support and, when ther was very little response, the parade was canceled in 2004.
The holiday parade then became just a part of city history until a shorter parade was revived last year.