Holiday Horse Parade to gallop back to Urbana

‘The merchants are excited to do this and there will be more community involvement,’ board member says.

Reindeer are in season during the holidays, but horses will usher it in in Champaign County today.

The Holiday Horse Parade in downtown Urbana will expand to a full day with a range of activities leading up to the big parade that has more than 50 horses heralding the arrival of Santa Claus. Activities will begin at 10 a.m. and admission is free.

Following the event’s cancellation in 2020, organizers found more interest in being part of welcoming it back.

“There’s a lot of excitement. The merchants are excited to do this and there will be more community involvement,” said Vicki Deere-Bunnell of the Monument Square District Board, which presents the event.

Many downtown shops will open at 10 a.m. offering specials tying into the day, and a holiday hostess will be available for shopping questions. Food trucks and street vendors set up at 11 a.m. and run until 8 p.m., while special live DJ music will set the musical tone along with strolling carolers.

Carriage and trolley rides will begin an hour earlier than previously at 4 p.m., pause from 5:30 to 7 during the parade and continue through 8.

Legacy Park will be the sight of two special seasonal happenings: Community caroling will start at 5 and the annual tree lighting will follow at 5:30 p.m.

Also at 5, The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany will have a Carols, Candles and Cocoa event passing out free hot drinks and welcoming visitors in. The Champaign County Youth Choir will entertain there.

Expect 80 participants, including 55 horses from a wide area including mini horses and some pulling carts and carriages when the parade starts at 6:30, paving the way for Santa’s entrance at 7:30 at Oxner’s General Store.

Santa will be available for photo ops with a background at Oxner’s. Children won’t be allowed to sit on Santa’s lap due to health concerns, but goody bags will be given.

Santa will appear at Oxner’s, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday up through Christmas for anyone that can’t make it that night.

The weekend holiday kickoff will continue on Saturday when downtown merchants will offer more specials and attractions, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for Small Business Saturday.

There will be no parking in the Square from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

Also from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today, West Liberty will have its Christmas in the Village and Black Friday event. It will include sales in the village shops, food trucks, a 5K race, a soup meal and capped by a parade featuring Santa at 6:30, ending at the fire house where he’ll meet the children.


What: Holiday Horse Parade

Where: Downtown Urbana

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, Nov. 26

Admission: free

More info:

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