BENTON - There are lots of changes in store for some old time traditions this holiday season as the Benton Main Street group announces this year’s parade and Dicken’s Christmas lineup.
Parade Coordinator Britney Hargrove reports that while the parade has typically been held the first Saturday in December during the late morning to early afternoon hours, this year’s parade will flow through town just after dark.
Illuminated floats will travel this year’s parade route, set to extend from 8th Street on up to 13th in Benton. Hargrove says there are already 22 float entries logged, prompting the committee to place a cap on the number of allowable participants at 25.
“I think that is the first time anyone has ever had to limit it,” Hargrove said of the concept’s apparent success.
Dicken’s Alley will open immediately following the parade, which is set to include a wide assortment of refreshments, period appropriate costumes, a live nativity, warming stations and acoustical entertainment provided by Kalib Swift and Josh Tubbs.
Puckett’s Jewelry is once again sponsoring drawn carriage rides through town and the City of Benton will be hosting children’s train rides.
Parking will be restricted along the court square due to Dicken’s festivities, however, Hargrove said patrons are welcome to bring lawn chairs to enjoy the parade and added there is an effort to ensure some bleacher seating is available, as well.
The Benton Women’s Club will be sponsoring a chili supper in the old Main Street Java building set to take place after the parade.
As to how these once separate events came together, Hargrove said members of the Benton Main Street Committee had for some time, hoped to draw a larger crowd to the events and hoped that by combining them, they could accomplish that goal.
“The parade used to be held the same weekend as Hoopfest and so it just made more sense to try to move the parade and make the crowd more consistent,” Hargrove said.
She added that while these changes, among others, have already been implemented, there are more already in the works.
“We are working on expanding Dickens quite a bit, but we are unsure just how much we can get done this year,” she added.
As to why the group has poured so much time and effort into pushing these changes through this year she said, “All of us on the committee agreed that our community has been through so much this year. There have been so many reasons and needs to respond to, such an outpouring of support for a lot of different things – we wanted to find a way to give something back.”
She added that with all of the charitable contribution requests, she and others are excited about the opportunity to offer an activity to the community where a night of family fun and enjoyment can be had for free.
This year’s event schedule begins at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 as the MCHS Choir performs on the square. The parade is set to take off at 5:15 p.m. and will feature the Marshall County Arts Commission as Grand Marshals.
“We are asking everyone to come out and support this event,” she said. “The more support we have this year, the better we can make it next year.”