If you’re in the Kalamazoo, Mich. area on November 13, 2010, and don’t have any plans, come to downtown Kalamazoo and celebrate the 49th annual Kalamazoo Holiday Parade! The Kalamazoo Holiday Parade start its winding route through downtown Kalamazoo at 10:45 a.m., and will wrap up with Santa and Mrs. Claus at around 12:15. Over 100 units are expected to participate, including marching bands, floats, organizations, and giant helium balloons like annual favorite Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Reasons to Get Downtown Early
The parade doesn’t start until 10:45, but with anywhere between 30,000 and 40,000 people expected to attend, you might want to get an early start. Catch a great parking spot conveniently close to West Michigan Avenue (the most popular place to sit for the best views of the parade) and grab a cup of coffee or breakfast at a nearby restaurant.
Or, if you’re a fan of pancakes and charitable causes, be sure to attend the second annual Knights/Lions Pancake Breakfast. It starts at 9:00 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus building, located at 219 W. Cedar St., and the cost is only $5 per person.
You can also check out the Ladies’ Library Bazaar, which runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will feature handmade items, baked goods and tours of the building. The Ladies’ Library will be offering hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls before the parade.
Kalamazoo Holiday Parade Route
The parade will start at Lovell and Jasper Street, head down Lovell to Park Street, turn onto West Michigan Avenue and then Pitcher Street, before finally returning to Lovell.
What’s New This Year?
If you attend the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade this year, be sure to bring some non-perishable food items. Local legislators will be pushing shopping carts along the parade route to collect donations for Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes. In addition, you can now text in your vote for favorite float, and the winner will get a $150 prize.
More to see…
Traditionally, high school marching bands from all over the area participate in the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade, trumpeting out their best renditions of the season’s Christmas carols. Intricately-designed floats can always be seen, along with waving crowds of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and veterans.
You can also watch for your favorite giant helium balloons, including the following crowd favorites:
Felix the Cat
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Pizazz the Snowman
Bob the Builder
What to do after the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade
Just because the parade ends doesn’t mean you have to head home. Take the kids down to the Kalamazoo Mall, where the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety will be displaying firetrucks and police cars for a close-up look until 2:00 p.m. You can also take a short walk to the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, located at 230 North Rose Street, for its Festival of Arts. Both kid-friendly events are free.
Downtown shops will be taking advantage of the big crowds to offer sales and specials, so watch for those, too! And if you’ve got the kids with you, head for Mall Plaza’s Santa’s Village, where the big man himself will be stationed from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. to hear Christmas wishes.
Nearing it’s fiftieth year, the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade is one of the most best-loved traditions in the area, drawing in thousands of people for a fun-filled kick-off to the holiday season. If you haven’t been to a Kalamazoo Holiday Parade, come downtown on Saturday, November 13, and see what you’ve been missing!