For the first time in recent memory the Laurinburg’s Christmas parade is being held on a Saturday.
Pauline Gruver, chair of the parade committee, said the move to Saturday was made in part because it facilitated the booking of school bands, a parade staple that attendees love.
“Parade visitors always want bands and that’s one of the reasons we moved the parade to Saturday, hoping to get more bands,” Gruver said.
If everything goes to plan, Gruver expects a middle school band as well as two high school bands to be in attendance, including the Scotland High School Marching Band.
Competition for booking bands is stiff as there are parades going on statewide over the next month.
“Every week between Thanksgiving and Christmas there is a parade somewhere, so these bands are in real demand.”
There are 113 entries in this year’s Christmas parade, presented by the Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce. The parade is also expected to include a float packed with dancers, characters from the Star Wars film series, a replica of the squad car from fictional Mayberry and – of course – Santa Claus.
Television personality Cecil Chandler will serve as grand marshal.
In what represents a first for the parade, the Crystal McInnis School of Dance will be sponsoring a commercial float.
“Typically we always have dance groups, but this is the first year that we have a dance group riding on a float,” said Pauline Gruver, chair of the parade committee.
Gruver said that people most look forward to “character type entries” like the Star Wars-themed group that will be appearing in the lineup on Saturday.
“We look forward to Smokey the Bear, too. And the horses. There is a good variety this year.”
Parade entries are up from last year, when 111 participated.
“But this year we have fewer commercial floats and more individual entrants,” Gruver said. “I think that was probably because of the economy, because the commercial floats are more expensive.”
Those riding in the parade are encouraged to meet at the launching point near the intersection of Railroad and South Main streets at 12:30 p.m.
The parade will start rolling from there toward its ending point near Plaza Road at 2 p.m.
Representatives of the Laurinburg Police Department were on the parade planning committee and officers will be on hand oversee traffic safety at the event.
Gruver stressed that parents dropping off children to ride in the parade should be ready to pick them up at the parade’s end point.
“They should make sure they’re down at the College Plaza parking lot before the parade is finished.”
A parade representative will be in the parking lot to facilitate unloading.