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Grosse Pointe City, Grosse Pointe Farms

November 20, 2013

Community gets ready for 38th annual Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parade Nov. 29

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Santa waves to an enthusiastic crowd from aboard his custom sleigh float during last year’s Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parade. The float, and several others in the parade, have been added in recent years, thanks to sponsors and the nonprofit Friends of the Grosse Pointe Parade.

GROSSE POINTE CITY/FARMS — The names behind it might have changed, but the Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parade still promises to be the same delightful community event it has been for decades.

Produced for the first time this year by the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce — which took the reins from the Grosse Pointe Village Association immediately following last year’s parade — the popular community staple will be held the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29, beginning at 10 a.m.

The 38th annual Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parade follows a 1.1-mile route that starts in the Farms, at Lewiston and Kercheval, and travels through the Hill business district en route to, and through, the Village as it makes its way along Kercheval toward Cadieux. Santa receives the key to the five Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods in front of Coldstone Creamery near the end of the route, said new parade Director Nora Dennehy Glenn. Santa will meet with children in the Village until about 4 p.m. that day. The parade typically draws about 10,000-12,000 visitors each year, depending on weather conditions.

GPCC Executive Director Jennifer Boettcher said they have “more sponsors than we have (had) in the past” for the parade this year — more than 30, as of press time.

“The changes that we’re making is making it more of a community (wide) event,” she said. “We’re getting more involvement from the children, from the schools, from the (local) organizations. … The chamber represents all five communities. We wanted to broaden it to make every community feel like they’re a part of this parade.”

School participants at press time included the pep bands from Grosse Pointe North and South high schools, and North physics teacher Gary Abud, Michigan’s Teacher of the Year.

Boettcher said they’ll also have a new float from Art Van that’s debuting in the Grosse Pointe parade, as well as an updated version of the Detroit Jazz Festival float featuring a renovated Cobo Hall in the background, courtesy of the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. Grosse Pointe Theatre — which is producing its first December show, the holiday-themed “White Christmas” — will perform songs from that show along the parade route, Glenn said.

Also slated to be in this year’s parade, said Glenn, are the Redford Unicycle Club, the Detroit Fire Department Clowns, Golden Retriever Rescue of Michigan, members of the mounted division of the Detroit Police Department, the Flint Scottish Pipe Band and members of the Parade Company’s Big Head Corps, who will be wearing some of the Detroit parade’s signature oversized papier-mâché heads. Scout troop members will be taking part, as well.

“We’re excited to have some of the things back in the parade that people liked,” she said. “Those are always crowd favorites.”

The parade is being presented by the GPCC and the GPCC’s nonprofit arm, the Grosse Pointe Chamber Foundation, said Boettcher, but another nonprofit, the Friends of the Grosse Pointe Parade, remains involved. The Friends group has created floats such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Grosse Pointe Express train and Santa’s sleigh, while the chamber groups are raising funds to put on the parade itself, she said.

The parade is preceded by the Grosse Pointe Lions Club’s 16th annual Happy Holidays Jingle Bell 5k Walk/Run, which starts at 9 a.m. on the parade route.

“The best thing about our parade is that we have so many local organizations (participating),” said MaryJo Harris, director of administration for the GPCC, noting that many of the attendees are on hand to see relatives marching with a float or group.

Glenn agreed.

“People come out to see their children … or it turns out that the parents or grandparents are driving a car (in the parade),” she said. “Families comes out to see family members in the parade. It’s just a tradition for people to come.”

Because of the run and the parade, Kercheval closes to vehicular traffic around 8 a.m. on parade day, and there’s no parking on Kercheval in the Village or Hill from about 7 a.m.-2 p.m., Glenn said.

For a map showing the parade route and parking, or for more information, visit the GPCC website at www.grossepointechamber.com or the GPCC’s Facebook page, or call (313) 881-4722.