One of the most spectacular and anticipated holiday parades is set to go again this year.
After being canceled in 2020 due to coronavirus, the 2021 Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas parade will be this weekend.
“Our parade Saturday morning, December 4, is the most unique in the nation,” said Marty Kennedy, Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade president. “Starting at 11 o’clock, this 28th edition of horse-drawn carriages parading Massachusetts Street is perfect to kick off the season.”
What began in 1993 as one man’s idea to spotlight Lawrence’s historic Eldridge Hotel has grown to a nationally recognized all-horse event. From a humble beginning of 21 horse-drawn entries, the parade is expected to nearly 70 horse-powered vehicles.
“The parade is managed by a group of Lawrence citizens and dedicated volunteers,” Kennedy said. “They spend many hours each year to organize, prepare accommodations, extend hospitality and insure safety of both entrants and spectators.”
“Our goal is to take people back to a more simple time,” Kennedy said. “Rigs pulled by horses, ponies, mules and donkeys adorned with garland, ribbons and bells come from throughout the Midwest.
Starting at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, the parade route has been extended this year. “It’ll be two extra blocks down Massachusetts Street, from Seventh Street to 15th Street, for more viewing areas,” Kennedy said
“We would not be able to have the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade without generous financial assistance,” Kennedy said. “Sponsorships from local businesses, individuals and city support have provided the significant funding necessary for the parade.”
Envista is challenging the community to provide additional assistance this year. “For every dollar given to the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade during the month of November, Envista will match up to $2,500,” Kennedy said.
“I have been a volunteer on the committee for 10 years,” said Ron Jones, Envista official. “I am proud to be a part of such an amazing organization and tradition. The lasting friendships that have come from this event have made an impact on my life.”
“Participants from five states travel to Lawrence on their own money,” Kennedy said.
“However, we provide horse stalls, a hotel room and supper the night before to help offset their expenses.”
The Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade is a 501c3 so all donations are tax-deductible.
“Donations more than $300 will be recognized on the parade’s website and in the program distributed parade day,” Kennedy said. “Sponsors are also invited to the fairgrounds Friday night before the parade to view horses and attend the participant supper.”
Registration is required for all parade participants whose entries must meet historical stipulations. Details can be found on Facebook and at www.lawrencechristmasparade.org.
Widely recognized at horse sales throughout the Midwest, Gordon Murray of Murray Horse Company at Mankato is anticipating his 15th year at the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade. The well-known horse merchandizer will again have his team of black and white horses, named Rock and Chalk in honor of the KU Jayhawks, in the parade Saturday morning December 4. (Randy Schwering, Oxbow Studios, photo)
Expecting nearly 70 entries featuring historical horse-drawn vehicles from five states will have spectators lined up along Massachusetts Street for the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade Saturday morning, December 4. (Lawrence Journal-World photo)