The parade, which begins at 2 p.m. on December 2 is being called the Roanoke Rapids Community Christmas Parade, said John Simeon, city parks and recreation director, who has been charged with organizing the event. “Since the area has had a tornado, hurricane and flood in the last year, the parade is something we can do to give back to the community.”
Starting Monday, people who want to be a part of the parade can go to its website set up by The Computer Guy and Company and find information, applications, rules and health code regulations for food vendors.
The parade already has one confirmed Shriners organization participating, the Hillbillies out of Fayetteville. Eight other Shrine units have been contacted and the city is awaiting confirmation. “We definitely have plans to have the sheriff and chief of police lead the parade,” Simeon said. “We have invited the (Roanoke Rapids) fire department and the volunteer fire departments and EMS to participate. One of our goals is to try and reach the veterans and National Guard to have them participate.”
The city has not yet determined the grand marshal of the parade. “We want someone who really stood up in the community within the past year.”
Simeon said the city is appreciative of the support it received from the bank. “There would not have been a Christmas parade without CCB and the Christmas parade has been one of the longest traditions in the city. For them to step in so we can have a Christmas parade says a lot about their commitment to the community.”
The parks and recreation department is relying on its event-planning experience and meeting with volunteers of previous parades to get the parade going. “I have the utmost confidence in the department that we can administer the parade as we’ve administered other activities we’ve been involved with.”
That includes activities such as the State Games, a triathlon and half-marathon. “With the triathlon we’ve blocked off seven miles of road and blocked off River Road and the avenue for the half marathon.”
The city is looking for a variety of participants, from community organizations to major companies. “We’re asking that all fire trucks, vehicles and floats play Christmas music.”
Judges will award prizes for the best float, best band, best fire and EMS vehicle and best vehicle.
It is also asking that all churches on the avenue consider playing Christmas music, whether from their chimes, choirs or hand bell choirs.
Simeon said the Roanoke Rapids High School band is the first band to commit to appearing in the parade. “We’re glad to see our hometown band be the first that agrees to participate.”
The city is asking that participants donate two cans of food, which will be donated to the Union Mission and Angel’s Closet. The community can bring canned goods to T.J. Davis Recreation Center up until the day of the parade.
Simeon believes the parade will be a way to lift the spirits of the community after the natural disasters that occurred in the past year. “I think it will be an opportunity for the community to get together and enjoy the Christmas spirit.”