By NEMS Daily Journal
Tupelo’s official welcome of the Christmas season unfolds along its traditional downtown route at 10 a.m. Saturday with the Reed’s Tupelo Christmas Parade celebrating the community’s designation as Mississippi’s healthiest community.
Members of the Healthy Tupelo Task Force will hold places of honor near the head of the parade as grand marshals, followed by dozens of bands, marching units, floats, equestrian clubs, beauty queens, government officials, and crowning the event, the Santa Claus float, including “flying” reindeer.
The 2012 theme for the annual Reed’s Christmas Parade is “Have a Healthy Christmas,” an appropriate civic gift.
The historic Santa sleigh and float has been part of Tupelo Christmases since the mid-20th century. The sleigh and reindeer first were a lavish outdoor decoration, then placed in storage until refurbished and revived as part of the annual parade.
Tupelo’s parade, started 64 years ago, is among the oldest in Mississippi. The oldest American parade featuring Santa Claus started in Peoria, Ill., the quintessential middle-American city, 125 years ago. The Peoria anniversary parade was held the day after Thanksgiving, allowing Santa plenty of time to travel to Tupelo for Saturday’s event.
• The parade route will include the traditional, annual Kiwanis Pancake Day fundraiser in Fellowship Hall of First United Methodist Church (Main at North Green Street). Doors open at 6:30 a.m., and all profits go to support Kiwanis charities.
• First Presbyterian Church, 400 Jefferson Street, offers free hot chocolate in its Fellowship Hall during the parade. Visitors are asked to use the Jefferson Street Godwin Garden entrance.
• All Saints Episcopal Church will serve free hot chocolate on the street near its campus, 608 West Jefferson Street.
Please note the street closings below:
• Jefferson Street between Commerce and Robins
• Commerce Street between Main Street and Franklin
• Front Street between Main Street and Franklin
• Main Street between Robins and Franklin
• Robins Street between Main and Jefferson
• West Side of the BancorpSouth Arena
All of the streets above will be closed from 7 a.m. until noon on Saturday.
No other event brings more people in greater diversity to the downtown area. The weather forecast looks perfect for a happy welcome to the festive season.