Entries in the Joplin Christmas Parade have lined up along Main Street between 20th and 25th streets for years, and this year will be no different — despite that area being part of the destruction zone caused by the May 22 tornado.
The parade will begin there at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, and head north to its conclusion at First and Main streets.
“We have always started it there for all the years we’ve been doing it,” said parade chairwoman Shahida Birkhead. “We just decided to keep everything the same. People are used to that.”
Birkhead, who is president of the parade’s coordinating organization, the Joplin Jaycees, said she drove through the area a few days ago.
“It was really phenomenal seeing the things happening and the progress there,” she said. “Starting the parade there will be a good thing.”
At 75 entries — and a few still trickling in — Birkhead said parade-goers can expect the length of the parade to be “about normal.”
There will be a few additions to the parade environment near Fifth and Main streets, including a local church group handing out gloves to children and volunteers distributing hot chocolate.
“We’re working to get more community involvement, to add more spirit,” said Birkhead.
Downstream Casino Resort is the parade’s grand marshal this year and chose the theme, “Hometown Christmas.”
Entries will include the Joplin High School band, Scout packs and troops, cheerleaders, dance groups, church groups, local organizations and businesses. Santa will bring up the rear of the parade in a Joplin fire engine.
The Carthage Christmas Parade starts at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5. Carthage SkillsUSA students are sponsoring the parade for what adviser Mark Sponaugle believes is about the 15th year.
“It’s our community service project, and our gift to the Carthage community,” he said.
More than 100 students belong to the chapter, and they will assist in lining up parade entries and directing traffic.
The parade, with the theme of “Jingle All the Way,” will start in front of Carthage Junior High School on Main Street and head to the north side of the square. It will end at the tennis courts on Grand Avenue, behind the junior high.
The 50 entries will include the Joplin High School band, bands from Carthage junior and senior high schools, a vintage car club, a saddle club, churches, area businesses and organizations, and candidates for the annual Little Mr. and Miss Merry Christmas.