GIBSON CITY — Saturday’s 25th annual Lighted Christmas Parade in Gibson City is expected to feature nearly 60 lighted floats, making it the biggest one ever.
The parade, sponsored by the Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce, is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, with the theme “silver bells.”
Entries in the parade will line up at two locations on the city’s south side starting at 5 p.m. — pre-lit floats in the parking lot of GAH Elite and custom floats in the parking lot of County Market. The parade will step off at 6:30 p.m. and head west on Illinois 9 before turning north onto Sangamon Avenue and heading downtown until 10th Street, when entries may pull off at any time after that.
Events downtown begin at 4 p.m., including the debuting of the city’s new downtown sound system by Dan Kearfott, who will be emceeing downtown events; live holiday music performed by The Fairchilds; and numerous craft vendors set up on the downtown sidewalks and inside Avenue Salon.
Also, a tree-lighting celebration will be at 5:30 p.m.
Numerous food vendors will be on hand from 4 p.m. until the start of the parade, including Pioletti’s Spaghetti (Italian beef, brisket, chili and chicken giardiniera sandwiches), Tea & Grounds, Dragon Fire Pizza’s food truck, Gibson Area Hospital’s pharmacy (free hot cocoa, candy canes and free “vials of life”), Come Get This’ food truck (philly cheesesteaks, Polish sausage, Chicago hot dogs, horseshoes and veggie burgers), Hunger Force’s food truck and New Beginnings Christian Fellowship Church (VIP seating with chili and cocoa).
Also, restaurants scheduled to be open include Black & White Confections, Burgers & Beer, The Bayern Stube and Vienna Yang’s.
The city’s new downtown speaker system will be in place to broadcast organizations and churches taking turns doing caroling downtown from 4 to 6:30 p.m., as well as announce the parade’s entries as they move through the business district.
Santa will be visiting with children at Hood’s Ace Hardware downtown following the parade.
Registration forms for parade entries are available by contacting Mayor Dan Dickey at email@example.com. It is requested that completed registration forms be returned to him before the day of the parade, if possible; however, entries will be accepted until 5 p.m. on the day of the event at County Market.
The entry that is named the overall winner will receive $300 in Gibson Bucks gift certificates. The overall winner will not be eligible to win individual categories, the winners of which will be awarded $75 in Gibson Bucks.
For more information about registering a parade entry or becoming a food or craft vendor during the parade, people can contact Dickey at 217-781-1905 or Susie Tongate at 309-825-0311.