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Rochester Area Hometown Christmas Parade to draw thousands downtown

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published December 4, 2019

 Autumn Kendricks, of Troy, from the Michigan Humane Society, marches with a dog up for adoption during last year’s parade.

Autumn Kendricks, of Troy, from the Michigan Humane Society, marches with a dog up for adoption during last year’s parade.

File photo by Donna Agusti

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ROCHESTER — The streets of Rochester will come alive with over 100 holiday-themed floats, community groups and marching bands this Sunday for the 68th annual Rochester Area Hometown Christmas Parade.

This year’s parade, which parade chairman Tim Crawford said is the largest Christmas parade in Michigan, will be held Sunday, Dec. 8.

“It’s truly our opportunity to showcase the community and its organizations,” he said.

Started by the Lions Club in the 1950s, the parade became the responsibility of the chamber in the early 1960s, according to Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce President Alaina Campbell.

It is now organized by the chamber’s foundation, which starts thinking about Christmas in July.

“The vast majority of the people on the parade committee have been part of the committee for 20 years or more. It’s a group of folks that enjoy bringing the Christmas spirit to the community,” Crawford said.

This year’s parade is sponsored by Chief Financial Credit Union and Rochester University, which Campbell said both made commitments to sponsor the parade for three years.

“This parade wouldn’t be possible without our sponsors. They are the ones that contribute the money to make this parade happen,” she said.

For the first time, this year’s parade won’t have a specific theme, allowing participants to reuse their past floats and marching attire.

“One of the things that we’ve found is that it’s a little restrictive, particularly for nonprofit organizations that have a float in the parade every year. For them to have to change their float every year can be costly — not only in dollars, but also in time. It puts an extra burden on those nonprofit organizations,” Campbell said.

The parade has become a tradition for many in the community. Over 75,000 people attend the event each year, setting up chairs and blankets along the route as early as 8 a.m.

“So many people have been coming for years and years and years,” Campbell said. “We hear from not only parents with small children today, but grandparents who brought their children when they were little and are now bringing their grandchildren to see the parade. It is just a wonderful family and community tradition.”

After securing a viewing spot, families are invited to the Older Persons’ Commission for a pancake breakfast sponsored by — and to benefit — the Kiwanis Club of Rochester Hills 8-10 a.m.

After bellies are full, children can visit the Santa Wonderland warming tent area — sponsored by Ascension Providence Rochester — at Fourth and Main streets in downtown Rochester to enjoy hot cocoa and participate in holiday-themed activities 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Children can get a quick picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus noon-1:45 p.m., sponsored by the Crawford Insurance Group.

The parade — led by grand marshals George and Betty Seifert — will roll down Main Street, starting at the corner of Tienken and Rochester roads, beginning at 2 p.m. and will head south to Third Street. It will feature over 100 units, including floats, bands, dancers, horses, Scout groups, elected officials, churches, community organizations, businesses, nonprofits and more. It will wrap up with Santa and Mrs. Claus on the final float, donated by Bordine’s Nursery.

The parade will go on rain or shine, and free shuttles will run from the Chase Bank on Walton Boulevard in Rochester Hills to the Chase Bank in downtown Rochester 12:30-4:30 p.m.

Following the parade, the public is invited to a free community afterglow party with Santa and Mrs. Claus 4-5 p.m. at Bordine’s, 1835 S. Rochester Road in Rochester Hills.

Those who would prefer to stay indoors can watch a livestream of the parade provided by Rochester Hills TV at www.rochesterhills.org or www.facebook.com/rochesterchristmasparade.

For more information, call (248) 651-6700 or visit www.rrc-mi.com.

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