By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Christmas Parade season gets into step this weekend with several marches making their way through local towns. The Altoona Christmas Parade may be Etowah County’s first of the season, happening tonight (Dec. 6) at 7 p.m. and it is definitely one of the biggest.
Altoona Event Coordinator Kevin Gilbert said this year’s parade may be a bit bigger even than last year’s. There are 150 entries, ranging from Big Al and the Oscar Weiner Mobile to classic cars and local floats. Gilbert said there are about 22 mascots and costumed characters making an appearance for the parade, including Shoney Bear, Ronald McDonald, and mascots from the University of North Alabama and Faulkner University.
“The Altoona Christmas Parade is still one of the top three Christmas parades in the state, according to the state tourism office,” Gilbert said. Gilbert said he’s been organizing the parade since 2007. This year, he’s managed to get some entries he’s been after since 2007.
One of those, Gilbert said, is the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Moon Buggy, which will participate in this year’s parade. There are entries from across the state as well as Georgia, Tennessee and Florida.
Free soup, chili and hot dogs will be available at the community center after the parade. In the event of rain, Santa Claus and the costumed mascots will be in the community center for pictures.
Downtown Gadsden’s North Pole Stroll/First Friday festivities will be Friday also. Downtown Gadsden Inc. Executive Director Kay Moore said everyone who wants to stroll should meet in front of the Pitman at 5 p.m. in their Christmas costumes or finery.
The stroll will start shortly thereafter and make its way to Gadsden City Hall for the tree lighting, probably around 5:30 p.m.
Parades continue Saturday (Dec. 7) with the Carver Christmas Parade at 1 p.m. Gadsden City Councilman Robert Avery said the parade’s theme is “Joy To the World.”
The parade, organized by the Carver Revitalization Committee, will start at the old Goodyear Warehouse on Tuscaloosa Avenue, and end at 11th Street.
Floyd Donald of WMGJ Radio will serve as the grand marshal, and Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be guest participants.
At the parade’s end, the committee will stage First Saturday events, with entertainment and activities at the Carver Square. There will be free hot dogs and vendors
Hokes Bluff’s Christmas Parade also is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Dec. 7. It’s theme is “Christmas Around the World.”
The Sardis City Christmas Parade is slated for 11 a.m. on Dec. 14.