The rattle of wagon wheels will be heard downtown Saturday when the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade returns for its 16th year.
Nearly 100 decorated wagons, carriages and riding groups have been entered in this year’s parade, which will start at 11 a.m. The parade route will be from Seventh Street south on Massachusetts Street and end at 13th Street.
“We have a really good turnout again this year,” said Jana Dobbs, president of CornerBank, the managing partner of a limited liability company that handles day-to-day operations for the event. Starting in July, staff from the bank’s branches provide hundreds of hours of work coordinating the parade.
It’s the largest horse-drawn parade, at least in the Midwest and maybe the nation, Dobbs said. Some of the parade entrants have been coming back for several years and have become crowd favorites, she said.
“A lot of these folks put a lot of effort into their rigging and really put on a good show,” Dobbs said. “Many of them will be wearing period costumes.”
Santa Claus will ride in a one-horse open sleigh at the end of the parade.
Sunflower Broadband’s Channel 6 will broadcast the parade live from Seventh and New Hampshire streets. The telecast will also be available on Video on Demand after it airs.
About 50 volunteers will manage the parade to make sure entrants get lined up correctly and things go as planned, Dobbs said.
“We have lots of people who have experience with horses to ensure the safety of the spectators at the parade,” she said.
There are more than 70 parade sponsors. The city’s guest tax is used to support the parade, including paying for overnight hotel costs incurred by the entrants and for meals the night before and the morning of the parade.
“It’s expensive to bring all the horses and trailers to town, and we really appreciate what they do,” Dobbs said.