Santa Parade marches through downtown Grand Rapids

Santa Parade marches through downtown Grand Rapids
Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting in Wilkes-Barre
JACKSON, MI – Lights glowed and Santa Claus came to town on Friday evening, Nov. 16 at the Downtown Jackson Christmas Parade.

With a theme of “Christmas angels,” the parade honored Robin Kirkpatrick, 55, who unexpectedly died in June from a heart attack.

The 84th Street Sliders from Byron Center were among the first marchers to step off from the starting line. Coach Mike Schulke led his 15U, 16U, and 17U baseball teams down Monroe Avenue carrying signs of Michigans fallen servicemen and women and other military members who gave their lives defending America. He tries to teach his players about the lives of the fallen, and makes it a team goal to make sure they are honored and never forgotten.

“Whether its somebody theyve lost or somebody thats still present – everybody has a Christmas angel,” event organizer Ed Hatfield said earlier this week. “She is missed. Sorely missed.”

Adding some heat and flare to the march, ballooners from all over West Michigan got their baskets together to give the biggest pyrotechnic punch of the parade. They lit off their burners in unison, in what had to be the warmest float to be on in the entire parade.

The 28th annual event started at 6 p.m. on the west end of W. Michigan Avenue in the downtown loop and ended at Consumers Energy headquarters, 1 Energy Plaza.

Following the parade, officials from Consumers Energy lit their new tree in front of Consumers headquarters.

For more information on the parade, you can visit their official website. According to the parade info, this event is Michigans 2nd largest parade just behind Detroits Thanksgiving Day parade.

Numerous floats and six marching bands highlighted the parade. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, per tradition, were last in line.

Weve got a lot of Caribbean tunes, a lot of Christmas tunes. Basically a bunch of fun music we all love to play, said Duane Wilson, one of Petoskey High School Bands directors.

“Its a community event and its all about the children,” Hatfield said. “This is great, as far as kicking off the holiday season.”

The streets of Grand Rapids were lined Saturday, as an eager crowd anticipated the sounds of the season coming by way of the Art Van Santa Parade, presented by the Grand Rapids Jaycees.

Befitting of the snow covering the mid-November Lehigh Valley landscape, its time for Santa Claus to come to town and see what all the good boys and girls want for Christmas.

Hes an eighth grader, hes in the high school band along with a bunch of other great kids. Were proud of him. Very proud, Codys mom, Lindsay Holman, said.

Santa and helpers Shannon Parks, left, and Dejaa Huegel appear Nov. 25, 2011, at the Phillipsburg Mall.

The Petoskey High School Band came in with their signature double-decker bus, and a full band of students on steel drums to give the parade a Caribbean flavor.

Palmer Park Mall off Route 248 in Palmer Township is hosting its annual Santa event at 11 a.m. today. It includes a fire, ambulance and police parade to deliver Santa aboard a firetruck and music from the Easton Area High School pep band.

It was a special day for the Holman family, who turned out to see their brother and son Cody perform with the Tri-County High School Marching Band.

Photos with Santa Claus are also available at the Lehigh Valley Mall through Dec. 24, and families can reserve a FastPass in advance to skip the line at 

We want people to never forget them because theyre important to everything we do, Schulke said.

Families may also visit celebrateyourholiday.comto reserve time with Santa at the Palmer Park, Phillipsburg and South malls plus the Outlets at Sands Bethlehem.

Find Santa, The Grinch, Woody, Buzz, Elsa, Princess Belle, Olaf, Minions and more on a walk through the Lehigh Valley Zoo during the Winter Light Spectacular. It runs 5:30 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday to Dec. 30. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Tickets run $4 to $14.

Lights in the Parkway can be viewed 5:30 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays through Dec. 9 and nightly Dec. 12-28. Lights in the Parkway is closed on Christmas Day.

Admission on site is $15 per car; $25 per commercial van, minibus and limo; and $45 per bus. Tickets may be purchased in advance online at or at a discounted rate of $12 per car and $22 per commercial van, minibus or limo. Credit card sales are accepted on site, but are only discounted if purchased in advance. Lights in the Parkway also accepts checks or cash.

Advance ticket sales at $10 and $20 are available at Allentown City Hall, 435 Hamilton St., and all locations of Allentown Federal Credit Union.

Santa is scheduled to appear for photos Dec. 4 during the new Paws in the Parkway dog-friendly night out at Lights in the Parkway. Also this year is the 8th annual Lights in the Parkway 5K and Walk, beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21. Visit for details on both of these special events. 

Posted in Grand Rapids