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GIBSON CITY — “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” is the theme for the 18th annual Lighted Christmas Parade this Saturday evening in Gibson City.
The theme was the winning entry from Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley fifth-grade student Lauren Leonard, who will serve as the parade’s grand marshal. Leonard’s theme was selected by votes of the residents of the Gibson Area Hospital Annex and Heritage Health facilities. The residents will be honorary marshals.
Entries for the parade, sponsored by Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce, will be accepted until 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the parade’s starting point, which will have entry forms available.
Entry forms are currently available at Leonard’s Performance Center, Front and Center Gallery Florist and the Moyer District Library, all in Gibson City.
The parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. from the County Market parking lot on the city’s south edge and head west along First Street (Illinois 9) before turning north on Sangamon Avenue and continuing north on Sangamon to 10th Street.
Many Gibson City businesses will be open until 8 p.m. or later on Saturday, according to parade co-chairman Miranda Leonard. The downtown area will also feature fun-filled activities including vendors and caroling groups before and during the parade, she said.
As of Tuesday, vendors for food, warm beverages and other items included Perky Cupcakes, the Gibson City Fire Department, Bruce and Janet Hammit, BCTGM Local 3256, the Gibson City Lions Club, and Busy Hands Nursery School.
Additional participants are welcome and are asked to contact Sharon Craig at the Moyer Library at 784-5343.
Entries will be judged at a reviewing stand located on Sangamon Avenue between 8th and 9th streets. Prizes will be awarded in the following categories: commercial float, commercial vehicle, golf cart, farm implement (tractor, auto or truck), individual/family, and religious organization float. Any rental entries are welcome but will not be judged.
Category winners will receive $75, and the overall grand-prize winner will receive $200 in Gibson Bonus Bucks, redeemable at over 60 chamber-member businesses.
As is tradition, Santa Claus will arrive via horse-drawn carriage near the parade’s end. Following the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be receiving visitors in Santa’s house located near the Blue Star Café and Insurance Provider’s Group office in downtown Gibson City.
Leonard and co-chair Neva Rohrer said the committee has been busy planning the event for weeks.
“We look forward to sharing this annual event,” they said.
Any individual or group interested in more information about a parade entry may call the co-chairs at the Gibson Area Hospital Annex activity department at 784-2535 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.