Celebrating 100 years of the Grand Rapids Santa Parade

Art Van Furniture

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Halloween is right around the corner, then the rush will be on to the holiday season. In Grand Rapids that tradition starts with the Art Van Santa Parade presented by the Grand Rapids Jaycees. This year celebrating a big milestone and today we have Wayne Bersano and Jess Lemcke in studio.

>>> Take a look in the video above.

The parade started in 1919 as the Wurzburg’s Santa Clause Parade on Campau Square. The parade was originally designed to bring people to downtown GR to kick off the holiday shopping season. Seeking new leadership, the parade was taken over by the Junior Chamber, formerly known as the Jaycees, over 50 years ago. Today it is the 2nd largest parade in the state of Michigan, competing with Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

With the major shift of downtown away from department stores the parade has continued to be a wonderful tradition for Grand Rapids and now focuses on community partnership with various businesses and the Junior Chamber has insured the parade is a great community event with leadership and volunteer opportunities.

In 2010, title sponsor Art Van Furniture came on board, adding large scale attractions and a partnership with WOOD TV8 to host the event on live television.

Parade organizers are looking for approximately 120 volunteers in areas such as staging and de-staging of entrants, banner carriers, parade marshals, and hospitality. The tentative deadline to sign up is November 19th which is the day of the orientation party.

Additionally, they are still looking for entrants in the parade. Every year they have approximately 100 entries that vary from dancers and marching bands to animals and unique floats. The deadline to be an entrant in the parade is October 31st.

Lastly, they are still looking for sponsors. The parade is the Junior Chamber’s biggest fundraising effort. It allows them to give back all throughout the year to create learning opportunities for young professionals as well as many other events like our Holiday Shopping Tour, the Kindness Rally, and Visionaries Inspire. To find more information on becoming a volunteer, entry, or sponsor you can visit their website at www.SantaParadeGR.com.

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