GIBSON CITY — Organizers of Gibson City’s 24th annual Lighted Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce, said that more than 40 floats are already signed up to appear in the Nov. 17 parade, making it bigger than the parade has been in recent years.
"Our committee (organizing the parade) has worked hard securing new parade entries, and we are excited to have several floats being provided by churches again this year," said Mayor Dan Dickey, who along with his wife, Paula, and Susie Tongate are leading the committee.
"Several businesses have also provided sponsorship for floats for the first time this year," Dickey added. "We are thrilled that so many people from our community and out-of-town visitors come to enjoy the parade. We want to be sure to give them a great show."
The parade is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, with the parade’s theme being "An Old-Fashioned Christmas."
There are only three pre-lit floats still available to rent, and parade organizers said they would like to have a business or organization sponsor those floats. A business sign will be provided, and the vendor provides the driver. To sponsor one of the pre-lit floats, people can contact Dan Dickey at 217-781-1905 or Tongate at 309-825-0311.
A live Christmas tree will once again be welcoming visitors to Gibson City’s downtown for the holidays. Also, new lighted wreaths will be hung on the city’s pole lights and store windows and flower pots will be decorated.
On the day of the parade, activities start at 4 p.m. Among the activities already scheduled are:
— The Ed Day Skatepark Committee will be selling Queen of Hearts raffle tickets.
— GoinPlaces Catering will be selling snacks and mulled cider.
— Several organizations will be selling seasonal items like soups and caramel apples.
— Derrick Babb will be set up downtown sharing historical memories of Gibson City.
— Several groups of carolers from churches will be singing Christmas carols in the downtown area from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
VIP seating available
VIP seating for the parade will be provided by New Beginnings Church, which will provide bleachers next to the church’s downtown location, the former Gibson City Meats & Deli building.
For a $10 donation, people can reserve a VIP seat, which entitles them to a seat on the bleachers, a blanket and unlimited soup and hot chocolate. Proceeds from the VIP seating will benefit a variety of local charities. Tickets will be available from the church and City Hall.
Entries in the parade will line up at County Market on Gibson City’s south side starting at 5 p.m. 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.
"The highlight of the parade, of course, will be the final float which will bring Santa to Gibson City," Dan Dickey said. "After the parade passes through town, Santa will then greet children inside Hood’s Ace Hardware. This is different than previous years when he met with children prior to the parade."
Unless there is a conflict with a Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School football playoff game, WGCY-Radio will once again provide a live broadcast of the parade on 106.3 FM. Parade entries will be announced as they proceed through town.
Registration forms for parade entries are available from Dan Dickey by contacting him at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is requested that completed registration forms be returned to Dickey by Wednesday, Nov. 14, 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.
Entries should have lights of some kind and a sign designating the business or owner of the float. Signs will be supplied for all rental entries. Each entry is responsible for supplying electricity for their float.
It is requested that no Santa Claus or Mrs. Claus be with any entry. This is to ensure that children are not confused with there being more than one Santa and Mrs. Clause.
Not allowed are walking entries. Also, no candy or giveaway items may be thrown from a float or vehicle in the parade.
Food and craft vendors are also being sought for the parade. Anyone interested in becoming a food or craft vendor is asked to register by Nov. 2. However, last-minute vendor signups may be permitted on the night of the parade. It is requested that each vendor be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 17.
For more information about registering a parade entry or becoming a food or craft vendor during the parade, people can contact Dan Dickey at 217-781-1905 or Tongate at 309-825-0311.