The Friday of the annual Roy Martin Delta Band Festival and Christmas Parade is almost like a holiday for the residents of Greenwood.
“Businesses close early, there’s a flurry of activity, and there just seems to be a kind of magical buzz in the air on parade day,” said Beth Stevens, executive director of the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the event.
The parade will be held at 4 p.m. Friday. Since it is traditionally held on the second Friday after Thanksgiving Day, the last time the parade was held in November was in 2012, which also celebrated Thanksgiving on Nov. 22.
On the evening before the parade, Main Street Greenwood will hold the Lighting of the Courthouse at 6 p.m. The event will be held at the steps of the Leflore County Courthouse.
“It’s a wonderful Christmas event that kicks off the holiday season,” said Brantley Snipes, executive director of Main Street Greenwood. “It launches us into a full calendar of events for December.”
The event will feature community Christmas carols and the presentation of the 2018 Downtown Awards, which are given to the favorite downtown retailer and restaurant, favorite activity in downtown Greenwood and the business with the best window displays throughout the year. At the end of the event, the courthouse will be all aglow in white lights.
The Chamber of Commerce’s annual Outdoor Movie Night, which is sponsored by the Bank of Commerce, will follow at 6:30 p.m. on the courthouse lawn.
“We thought it’d be fun to do two shorter films this year,” said Stevens. “We’re doing a double feature, and each movie is 30 minutes long.”
The two animated films that will be shown are “Kung Fu Panda Holiday” and “Merry Madagascar,” which are both Christmas specials of DreamWorks films.
Concessions will be sold. Those attending are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets.
Friday morning, floats and entries will begin lining up near the corner of Walthall Street and Carrollton Avenue, where the parade begins.
“It takes up about four city blocks,” said Stevens.
Entries and bands will need to be in the lineup by 1 p.m. to be judged. Awards for the top floats and bands will be presented outside of the Bank of Commerce on Howard Street during the parade.
To be in the parade, participants will need to be in line no later than 3 p.m.
From it’s starting location, the parade route will continue on to Howard Street, then to Grand Boulevard and ends at the intersection of West Park Avenue and Grand.
“We’ll have a fun mixture of entries,” said Stevens. “There will be floats, bands, dance groups, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and we have some really fun big inflatables this year. Kids love them, and adults love them. They are always such a cool visual to have in our parade.”
One fun entry back in the parade this year will be the Old Durant Supper Club, which includes men dressed in overalls and fake teeth with an old pickup truck.
“They stop along the parade and act like they are fixing their truck,” said Stevens. “They are hilarious.”
The parade will also include horse-drawn carriages, a beauties float featuring Miss Mississippi and other local and regional pageant winners and a variety of bands, including the Mississippi Valley State University marching band. The parade averages about 75 to 80 entries each year.
“You never know what’s going to show up in the Greenwood Christmas parade,” said Stevens. “There’s always a surprise somewhere.”
The parade marshal will be Russell Baxter of Greenwood. Baxter is a former band director at Amanda Elzy High School, and he directs the Greenwood Community Concert Band. Stevens said in the 1980s, Russell was a part of an effort to revitalize the Christmas parade after having declined.
“Russell was one of the ones instrumental in getting the parade built back up into what it is today,” said Stevens. “We definitely owe him a debt of gratitude for being so involved in our parade over the years.”
It’s free to enter the parade, and the registration deadline ends this week. The parade’s annual theme is “Sights and Sounds of the Delta.”
“You can talk to different generations of people, and they all have fond memories of parade day in Greenwood,” said Stevens. “We have one of the bigger parades in Mississippi and the oldest Christmas parade in Mississippi. There’s so much history here.”
After Santa Claus makes his way down the parade route, the event will be capped by an elaborate fireworks show, which is sponsored by the Greenwood Convention and Visitors Bureau each year.
Keeping the festivities going, Main Street Greenwood is promoting several downtown holiday events from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
Photos with Santa will be held at the Bank of Commerce on Howard Street. Lamb’s Photography will be taking the pictures.
There will also be cookie decorating for children at the Viking Cooking School, and downtown carriage rides.
Main Street is also kicking off its quarterly fundraiser Brunch for Bricks. Station 222 will host the event.
A portion of the proceeds will go directly toward the preservation and promotion of downtown Greenwood.
Another Saturday of activities will be held downtown on Dec. 8, including carriage rides, photos with Santa at the Bank of Commerce and ArtPlace Mississippi’s Holiday Market, which serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit.
For more information about the parade or to volunteer, call the chamber at 453-4152. To enter a float in the parade, visit www.greenwoodmschamber.com.
To vote on the Downtown Awards, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/96SVNMQ. The deadline is 5 p.m. Monday.
• Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.