Urbana kicks off season with annual Holiday Horse Parade

It will be the sound of “Jingle All the Way” in Urbana on Friday, the theme signaling the start of the holiday season in Champaign County.

The cheer will begin with the annual Holiday Horse Parade from 4-8 p.m. in downtown Urbana. The event will include a tree lighting, extended business hours, food trucks, street vendors and capped by the horse parade and the arrival of Santa Claus.

The event is free and presented by the Monument Square District along with several sponsors.

“It is a nice, big outside event. People love being out, taking carriage rides and experiencing the season,” said Vicki Deere-Bunnell of the Monument Square District Board.

Holiday music and free carriage rides kick things off at 4, followed by the tree-lighting ceremony in Legacy Park on the Square at 5:30. Downtown businesses will be open with special decorations and themes to also attract visitors.

ExploreSalvation Army seeks bell ringers for Red Kettle campaign

At least 80 horses or more will be decked out and lighted ready to parade downtown and paving the way for Santa’s arrival around 6:30. The parade grand marshals will be Sandy and Vince Gonzalez, who are known for their frequent volunteer efforts in the area.

From there, Santa will welcome everyone at his new home away from the North Pole, SantaLand at Legacy Place Monument Square, formerly the Douglas Hotel, a senior living facility that opened earlier this year.

Deere-Bunnell said the residents of Legacy Place are excited to have visitors. SantaLand will be in the lobby and Santa will receive visitors 1-3 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 17, and letters to Santa can be placed in his mailbox in front of Legacy Place at any time.

Urbana merchants will continue the holiday festivities on Small Business Saturday, offering various specials and events tying in.

There will be no public parking in the Square, 2-8 p.m. Friday to allow for event setup, and no parking on Scioto Street from 5-7 p.m. Parade horses and owners will set up on Patrick Avenue, and there will be no traffic on the Square from 6 p.m. until the last parade participant has cleared downtown. All traffic will be blocked and rerouted.

ExploreSpringfield locations offer angel tags to help those in need

Deere-Bunnell suggests visitors could find public parking on West Court Street.

“This is our way of giving back to the community. People love things like the free carriage rides, the lights, the horses and Santa,” she said.

HOW TO GO

What: Holiday Horse Parade

Where: Downtown Urbana

When: 4-8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 25

Admission: free

More info: www.monumentsquaredistrict.com/holiday-horse-parade

About the Author