The Christmas parade coincides with the anniversary of when the city of Woodstock was chartered, making the event a one-of-a-kind celebration of both the city and the season.
With family-friendly attractions and a spectacular parade of lit-up floats, Marybeth Stockdale, Woodstock Parks and Recreation special events coordinator, said the downtown parade and jubilee are a Christmas celebration not to be missed.
The parade, starting at 5:30 p.m., and jubilee are expected to attract around 5,000 people to the downtown area for the parade of lights, tree lighting celebration, Citizen of the Year award ceremony, arts and crafts shopping from vendors in the park, Santa Claus visits and more.
“Santa will go through the parade on a firetruck and then immediately after the parade, he will be in the gazebo. He’ll throw the light switch to light the tree in the park, with the mayor,” Stockdale said. “Santa will greet every kid that shows up. He won’t stop until everybody’s had a chance to see him.”
Woodstock’s Citizen of the Year Patti Brady will be presented with her award after the parade at the gazebo at the Park at City Center, and the city’s Christmas lights will be turned on.
Brady will ride in the first car alongside Mayor Donnie Henriques, acting as the grand marshall of the parade.
Stockdale said the parade is unique because it consists of so many different lighted floats. Two floats will be chosen as the best-decorated, one for the most original, and the other for the best holiday float.
“With our parade of lights, it makes it different than any other parades in the area, because we ask everyone to illuminate the best way they know how, participants are taking on the challenge of lighting up the town,” Stockdale said. “It’s a treat for the viewers … they’re getting more and more creative with how they light their floats.”
Stockdale said the beginning and end of the parade are the most popular place to be, because it’s easier to get in and out quickly, but she thinks the middle of the parade is the most exciting.
“Downtown, it’s a little more exciting because the grand stand is there, where you have the parade announcers and some music going on,” Stockdale said. “But the beginning and end of the parade are easiest.”
Cub Scout Pack 94 won for the most original float last year, for their “Tropical Paradise in Woodstock” themed float, and the Woodstock Lions Club float won for the best holiday theme.
“I think the stand-out this year is a float called ‘Walk for Ferrial,’” Stockdale said. “Balloon Atlanta has a hot air balloon flame in the back of a truck, and he lights the flame and it goes up 30 feet into the air. The people standing on the side of the road can feel the heat from it, they can see it coming from a mile away.”
Stockdale said another favorite for this year will be a group from the Sequoyah Regional Library System, who bring their decorated book carts to the parade and do a routine.
After the parade, the jubilee in the park will feature multiple attractions for all ages, Stockton said.
Ronnie the D.J. will play a mixture of music at the event, mainly consisting of Christmas songs, and there will be free marshmallow roasting for s’mores, along with cookies, hot chocolate, hot cider and water.
“We have some vendors in the park where you can do some early Christmas shopping,” she said. “Of course, we’ll have the moonwalk, too, for the kids.”
After the parade, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Shrek the Halls” will be shown in the Park at City Center, and visitors are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs for the movies, which begin at 8 p.m. and run back-to-back.
“We did it for the first time last year and it was a big success,” Stockdale said. “We’ll have food vendors if they would like to eat dinner, or take it to their chairs while they watch the parade, or eat before or after.”
Parking is available at various lots around downtown, including areas by the Chattahoochee Technical College and behind Chambers at City Center.
The parade and celebration will go on rain or shine, except in the event of dangerous weather. In the event of dangerous weather, updates on the event will be posted online at WoodstockGa.gov.
During the event, the Woodstock Jaycee’s will also be collecting unwrapped toys for children of any age for its Christmas Toy Drive.
Main Street and Rope Mill Road, and connecting intersections, will be closed for the parade, between 5:15 and 7 p.m. Main Street and Rope Mill Road will be closed between Highways 92 and Woodstock Elementary School for the parade.