Paducah’s annual Christmas Parade returns to its traditional format Saturday, and this year’s celebration will honor local health care workers.
It’s scheduled to start 5 p.m. at 14th and Broadway streets, near the Paducah Police Department. The parade route moves down Broadway to Second Street, turns left at Second Street and continues toward Monroe Street, where the parade will disband at the farmers’ market parking lot.
Parks and Recreation Director Amie Clark loves the Christmas parade.
“We are one of the few in our region that do a night parade with the Christmas lights, and so, I just think it’s exciting and fun and gets people in the Christmas spirit, if they haven’t gotten there already,” she told The Sun.
There are about 85 participants this year, but Clark noted some may have more than one float or vehicle. Parade participants will start lining up around 3 p.m. in the marshaling area. They include city departments, churches, businesses, banks, radio stations and others. Regarding traffic control, Clark said everything from 12th Street down to Second Street between Kentucky Avenue and Monroe Street will close for the parade.
“The parade is led by a police escort and so, those roads will get blocked at 4:30. The parade will start at 5 and then as soon as the parade finishes, we’ll open the streets back up,” she said.
It typically lasts about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, Clark estimated. The city had a reverse parade last year at Noble Park, in light of social distancing measures, and visitors drove past stationary floats. It had more than 1,000 people going through the park.
“It was a great event in lieu of being able to host the real thing, but we’re excited to bring it back,” Clark said.
“The Christmas parade is something that the community always looks forward to. We always have really good turnout for spectators, and so we’re excited to bring it back this year and have great participation.”
This year’s theme is “It’s a SUPER Christmas!”
“It’s recognizing real life and make-believe super heroes. We just felt like after the year that we’ve all been through with COVID, it was important just to be able to celebrate where we’ve been and where we’re going,” Clark said.
There’s one notable change taking place this year. Someone traditionally is chosen to serve as the grand marshal. Clark said they contacted Baptist Health Paducah and Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital about participating as the grand marshal, and the hospitals put together “some pretty large groups.”
“Baptist Health Paducah is honored to participate in this year’s parade as grand marshal, along with Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital,” said Laura Grumley, director, marketing and public relations for Baptist Health Paducah.
She said the parade is a celebrated tradition in Paducah and it looks forward to spreading Christmas cheer along the parade route.
“Our health care heroes have persevered through the pandemic and demonstrated their resilience, dedication and teamwork, and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate them and the holiday season with our community,” Grumley added.
Mercy Health has about 100 participants for the parade, including 50 employees and their family members, PR Director Nanette Bentley said.
“My fellow associates and I are thrilled to serve as this year’s Christmas Parade grand marshals,” Mercy Health Kentucky Market President Mike Yungmann said. “It’s a great honor, and we are excited to kick off a joyous holiday season with our associates, families and friends in the great city of Paducah.”
Follow Kelly Farrell on Twitter, @KellyAFarrell11