Lawrence promoters hope the Festival of Poinsettias will draw shoppers and overnight visitors from around the Midwest to the city's shops, restaurants, hotels and museums during the holiday season.
The city of Lawrence will be a blaze of color and a riot of activities during the Festival of Poinsettias, which starts Thanksgiving weekend.
More than 4,000 poinsettia plants will decorate local businesses, restaurants, hotels and museums -- even the Kansas Turnpike toll booths -- during the festival, a holiday promotion coordinated by the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The bureau has advertising the festival heavily in magazines throughout the Midwest and will begin promotions in Kansas newspapers next week, bureau director Judy Billings said.
Because the promotion is intended to bring visitors to Lawrence, most of the advertising has been placed outside the community, Billings said.
"I have seen a lot of promotions at Christmas, but I've never seen anything like this," she said. "We're getting a lot of attention outside the community, in addition to people inside the community."
One of the festival's highlights will be the first-ever Eldridge Hotel Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade.
The parade will be totally horse-powered, with about 100 horses pulling vehicles -- carriages, Conestoga covered wagons, a chuck wagon and a stagecoach -- and carrying riders, said Rob Phillips, the hotel's general manager.
"As far as I know, there's only one completely horse-powered parade in the country, and it's in Milwaukee," he said. "We wanted something that was unique, that was not going on anywhere else but Lawrence, Kan."
The parade will kick off at 11 a.m. Dec. 4 at Buford M. Watson Jr. Park, head up Seventh Street to Massachusetts and then go south to 11th Street.
Horses from Iowa and Nebraska have been promised to the parade, but most are from Kansas towns such as Medicine Lodge, Topeka, Horton, Le Roy, Marysville and the Lawrence area, Phillips said.
Santa Claus will ride aboard a stagecoach owned by Don Cress from Council Grove, he said.
Other holiday activities will include community theater and radio presentations, an art fair, concerts, a ballet, a "Messiah" singalong and a Christmas pageant.