Grand Ledge’s Christmas parade returns tonight after being cancelled in 2020, giving area residents and businesses a holiday season boost as the COVID-19 pandemic approaches two years.
“I think now more than ever people are wanting to get out and experience things, especially outdoors,” said Stefanie Black, who runs marketing for the Grand Ledge Area District Library.
The Grand Ledge Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the Night Lights Christmas Parade and related festival, estimate the activities bring 3,000 people into the city.
“That’s always the big draw down here,” said Stephene Lapp, who works at Ledge Craft Lane, a craft shop along Bridge Street where the parade takes place. “We’re known as the town of parades. We haven’t had any since COVID shut us down, and so people are really looking forward to it.”
Lapp said the parade is the town’s biggest, with participants decorating floats, trucks and farm equipment with holiday lights.
“It’s really special,” she said.
The event starts with the tree lighting at 6:45 p.m. at the Bridge Street Plaza. The tree was provided by the American Legion and will contain more than 6,000 lights.
The parade starts at 7 p.m. the Grand Ledge Fire Department, 500 N. Clinton St., and moves down Bridge Street toward the Sun Theatre. Santa will close out the parade riding a fire engine, and children are encouraged to visit at the end when he reaches his final destination at the Bridge Street Plaza.
“It’s such a joy to see the Grand Ledge High School Marching Band as well as all the community groups get in the holiday spirit,” said Amy Hoyes, executive director for the Grand Ledge Chamber of Commerce.
The event also includes gingerbread house building, reindeer food, hot chocolate and a chili cook-off at the Ledge Sweatshop to raise money for community projects.
In the downtown, attendees will be able to vote throughout December for their favorite light post decorated by an area business. Businesses that participated include Exit Realty, The Hive Dance Studio, Edward Jones, Hedlund Plumbing, MacDowell’s, Weathered Nest Vintage Market, Ledge Craft Lane, Brick and Grace Real Estate, Grand Ledge High School Foreign Language Department, Flagstar Bank, Transfast Trucking and J Rose Designs.
“We are thrilled to be able to have our Night Lights Christmas Parade and Festivities this year,” Hoyes said. “This community loves parades and the businesses love to participate and showcase their creative talent with all the lights on their trucks and vehicles.”
And while the parade often also includes local elected officials and political leaders, Lapp said the event transcends any political debates that might be happening in the community.
“You know what’s great about Christmas, and the holidays? It’s that there is no politics,” she said. “It’s just about giving and loving and seeing everybody again.”