The 67th Annual Asheville Holiday Parade, presented by Bojangles, rolls through downtown Asheville on Saturday, November 23 beginning at 11am. The parade starts on Biltmore Avenue near South Charlotte Street, makes a left on Patton Avenue, and ends at French Broad Avenue.
This is the biggest parade yet with 101 entries, many following the theme “A Star is Born.” The Parade Grand Marshals are some of Asheville’s talented stars including Ann Dunn and several Nutcracker dancers of The Asheville Ballet, Josh and Sue from 98.1 The River, Tammy and Dex from Mix 96.5, star baritone Dominic Aquilino and soprano Kelli Mullinix of Asheville Lyric Opera, and the McLellan family from “The Best Christmas Pageant” at Asheville Community Theatre. The Grand Marshal float is sponsored by Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community.
After many years, giant balloons will soar above the parade to add to the day’s excitement, along with eight marching bands, a variety of dance and cheer groups, dueling pianos, a skip rope team, and llamas, horses and unicycles to entertain the crowd. All leading up to the big finish, Santa Claus, sponsored by The Grove Arcade. For a full parade lineup, visit ashevilleparade.org.
Two of the big helium balloons in the parade, the “Happy Stars,” will be handled by volunteers from Toys for Tots with active Marines in dress uniform marching alongside. They will remind everyone to bring their donations of unwrapped toys to the Toys for Tots donation area at JingleFest. Parade organizers are hopeful that many people will bring a donation and this effort can become an annual tradition.
The festivities don’t stop with the parade. From 1-4 pm, head over to Pack Square Park for more free, family fun at JingleFest. The non-stop stage show, emceed by actor/comedian Tom Chalmers, will feature some of the best acts in the parade. The show will kick off with a concert by Trinity Baptist Jubiliee Choir at 1pm and don’t miss the special holiday concert by Asheville Choral Society at 3pm. Kids can play on giant inflatables while waiting for Santa who should arrive about 2pm. Photographer Steve Barker will be on hand to snap digital photos of children with Santa for free.
Games and giveaways will be offered by various sponsors, and food vendors will sell funnel cakes, hot chocolate and other food. Presenting sponsor, Bojangles of WNC, will also have their food truck offering everyone’s favorite Bo-food.
The Asheville Holiday Parade and JingleFest are produced by the Asheville Downtown Association and sponsored by: Bojangles of WNC, Mission Health and Mission Children’s Hospital, The Grove Arcade, Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community, Asheville’s Fun Depot, TD Bank, Asheville Citizen-Times, Asheville Scene, WNC Parent, Mix 96.6, Star 104.3, WNCW, 99.9 Kiss Country, 98.1 The River, WLOS/My 40, WNC magazine, The Laurel of Asheville, Aloft Hotel, Asheville Color & Imaging, Montford Park Players and Sisters of Mercy. The helium balloons are designed and built by Tony McKay of StarBound Entertainment of New Castle, PA.