XTO Energy will hold its annual Parade of Lights in downtown Fort Worth Nov. 22, 2015 with the theme, “Let the Season Begin!”
Activities in Sundance Square Plaza will begin at 2 p.m with “exciting, live holiday entertainment,” according to the press release for the event. At 5:30 p.m. cowboy Santas will march up and down the parade route to accept toy donations for children in need.
The parade itself will begin at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Belknap Street and Throckmorton Street. The parade will end on Weatherford Street, taking approximately 40 minutes in total. The parade will conclude with Santa himself going down the parade route and the lighting of the Christmas tree in Sundance Square.
Spectators will also see marching bands, antique cars and decorated horse-drawn carriages along the 1.58-mile parade route, according to the parade’s Public Relations and Social Media Manager Claire Armstrong.
The parade is free, but there is reserved seating available on the website with prices ranging from $9.50 to $35.
This year viewers can vote via text on which float they think should win the award of best parade entry. They can use their mobile device to text the word “parade” followed by the entry number to 99000 to cast their vote. Full details and terms and conditions are available online.
Shuttles will be provided by T’s expanded bus service that runs from Farrington Field, where there is free parking, to downtown. The buses will run from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and round trip shuttle service requires exact fare of $3.50 per person. For those driving to the parade, Houston Street and Commerce Street will close for pre-parade entertainment at 4:30 p.m..
Traditionally, the parade has been the week after Thanksgiving, however, this year it was moved up a weekend. Armstrong said this change happened after surveying street seat purchases, parade participants and sponsors, downtown shops and restaurants, and the dates of parades in other cities.
“Now with more retailers in place, having a successful Black Friday is important to the continued success of retailing and attracting more shops,” Armstong said. “We need more big nights in downtown and moving the parade to Sunday adds one to the calendar. We also believe this is the best date to improve parade access, parking availability and convenience for everyone involved. Also, because students have the following week off for Thanksgiving break, we are able to maintain the event’s family-friendly nature.”
The Grand Marshals for this year’s parade are Jacinto “Cinto” Ramos, Jr., board president representing District 1, Patricia Linares, Ph.D., former superintendent and Kent Scribner, Ph.D., the new superintendent of FWISD.
This event first began in 1983 with 25 units. This year the parade has over 100 units featuring community groups and supporters. In recent years the parade has attracted a crowd of over 200,000, according to the parade website.
The recent inclement weather has had no effect on parade preparations and Armstrong said she doesn’t think it will affect attendance this year either.
“Come rain or shine, we are still preparing for North Texas families to come out and enjoy the parade,” Armstrong said. “Although, Santa really doesn’t like it when his coat gets wet, so fingers crossed for no rain!”