Christmas officially comes to Little Rock on Saturday, not with a bang, but with a jingle, thanks to the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau's annual Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade.
"It is a wonderful holiday tradition," says organizer Angela Rogers, who points out that the parade celebrates all holidays, not just Christmas.
Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade
3 p.m. Saturday, Second Street and Broadway to Capitol Avenue and the state Capitol
"The purpose of it is just really to show the community that we can band together in fun and fellowship and have a nice time and celebrate the holidays together."
Every year, floats, bands and even animals make their way from the corner of Second Street and Broadway to Capitol Avenue and then on to the state Capitol. This year's parade is expected to draw 25,000-30,000 spectators to the streets of downtown.
"I have coordinated the parade for a lot of years," Rogers says. "Every year I'm always amazed at not only the number of people who come out but just the joy on their faces."
There are usually about 100 entries, including horse riding groups, nonprofit organizations such as the Humane Society of Pulaski County and school bands. There are $1,000 prizes for best nonprofit float and best high school marching band, so, "They really go out and get in the spirit of things," Rogers says.
Many of the floats toss candy out to the crowds, making it "kind of like a second Halloween," Rogers says. "The people that are involved in the parade, they really put a lot into it. They really take pride in their entries. The bands always have a little bit of pep in their step. It's loud -- but it's fun and it's free."
The big man himself, Santa Claus, takes a place of honor at the end.
The start of the parade, though, is reserved for the grand marshal and this year, that's Tom Brannon, who is retiring from his longtime role as meteorologist and anchor at KTHV, Channel 11 in Little Rock. In addition to his TV work, Brannon has also been involved in community service activities such as the Summer Cereal Drive.
Rogers says, "We felt like his work for the community was honorable and something to be celebrated."
The parade starts at 3 p.m., but many of the spectators start staking out their spots as early as noon.
"I personally believe there is not a bad spot," Rogers says, but she also points out that many people like to be near the judges' stand near the corner of Capitol Avenue and Izard Street, where bands pause for a brief performance.
The state Capitol is also a good spot, where there's a view of the parade making its way west down the avenue.
People close to the Capitol also are in prime position for the post-parade excitement. The official lighting and fireworks display at the state Capitol start about 6 p.m. and there will be other activities, including a meet-and-greet with Santa.
"That should be a fun time, as it usually is," Rogers says.
Weekend on 11/30/2017
Print Headline: Annual holiday parade to feature Tom Brannon