GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Santa Claus came to town Saturday as part of the annual Grand Rapids Santa Parade, sponsored this year by Gentex.
The parade route was a little shorter than in previous years, beginning at Lyon Street and Monroe Avenue NW, heading down Monroe to Monroe Center, continuing to Division Avenue and then turning east on Fulton Street to Jefferson Street.
It was followed by a free party for families at the First United Methodist Church parking lot on Fulton Street near Jefferson, with activities for kids provided by the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and Family Promise of West Michigan.
The parade was under the management of the city and a number of community partners this year. The group stepped in to save it after organizers with the Grand Rapids Junior Chamber said they did not have the capacity to do it.
“This is an important time for our community as we continue this 102-year tradition,” City Manager Mark Washington previously told News 8. “It gives our whole community hope, it brings us together, it’s that special time of the year.”
Zeeland-based automotive supplier Gentex agreed to be the name sponsor, providing a chunk of the about $50,000 needed to run it.
“It’s not every day you get asked to save Christmas. How do you say no to that?” Gentex Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications Craig Piersma said.
Other sponsors included Meijer, Experience Grand Rapids and AHC Hospitality. WOOD TV8, the media sponsor, had a float featuring anchors Emily Linnert and Brian Sterling, sports director Jack Doles and political reporter Rick Albin.
The parade’s grand marshal was Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.