Santa Claus will be welcomed to Urbana with an elaborate Holiday Horse Parade at 6:30 p.m. Friday that will travel west on Scioto Street to circle Monument Square. Adorned with lights, jingle bells and bows, horses, carriages and wagons will lead Santa to the Gloria Theatre, where children may visit him and get a picture of him in Santa Land.
Santa Land had been located on the southeast corner of Monument Square, noted Marcia Bailey, president of the Monument Square District board. Now that corner is Legacy Park, owned by the city and rented and maintained by the Monument Square District.
“We needed to move Santa Land,” Bailey said. “That’s about the same time that the Gloria Theatre became a project for the community, so we asked if we could move in down there. For the first two years we were in the lobby of the Gloria; now we’re going to be in the retail space right beside the post office this year, so we’ll have a separate entrance, which is going to be really nice.”
Santa Land will open at 7:30 p.m. following the parade, and Santa will be available every Friday (5 to 8 p.m.) and Saturday (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) until Dec. 23. There will be a Breakfast With Santa on Dec. 2 from 9 to 11 a.m, limited to 20, that children may register for on the night of the parade.
While Santa Land is an Urbana tradition dating back many years, this is only the second year for the tree lighting ceremony in Legacy Park, at 5:30 p.m. just prior to the parade. Several choirs will perform during the tree lighting and parade.
“It’s a live one this year that we’re trying to auction off at the end-of-year gala,” Vicki Deere-Bunnell, secretary of the Monument Square District board, said of the Christmas tree. “It’s bulbed and everything, so someone could actually bid on it and plant it. Last year was the first time we had a tree, so we tried to get at least a 14-foot tree. This year one of our board members suggested we have a bulbed tree. It will be up until probably about the 2nd week of January, at which point it will be delivered to (the new owner) and planted with the decorations removed.”
Short carriage rides around Monument Square will be available beginning at 5 p.m. Children can take trolley rides following the parade until 8 p.m.
Leading up to this is the “I Believe” window decorating contest for 12 downtown businesses, including Ethel’s Flower Shop, Fruit Salad, Kaleidoscope, Streamline Design, Creative Foundations, Four Gables Flowers, Unique Boutiques, Brecount Law Office, Security National Bank, 21 Square Circle, Big Willie’s and Martin’s Insurance. Judging occurred on Monday.
“They’re normally going to decorate their windows anyway, but if we create a theme for them that’s not only for their windows, … it goes into the parade and into Santa Land, then we have consistency,” said Bailey. “It’s enjoyable for people to just walk around and see the windows.”
She said 2,000 people on facebook are looking forward to participating in the parade and expanding the parade and festival for next year. Shops will begin to open at 10 a.m. on the day of the parade, and street vendors and children’s activities will begin around 3 p.m.