Holiday parade saved

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; The city&8217;s tourism department and a handful of volunteers have officially saved Christmas &8212; or at least the Christmas parade.

Tourism Director Walter Tipton agreed to take on the parade after the Downtown Development Association announced they would not sponsor it this year.

Tipton received a permit Thursday to hold the parade Sunday, Dec. 10, and he said he is looking forward to working to organizing it.

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&8220;I feel it&8217;s important for our town to have a Christmas parade,&8221; Tipton said Friday.

A committee made up of about seven volunteers has been set up to help with the planning, he said.

&8220;We will have a sign-up sheet in the next couple of weeks for groups who want to participate,&8221; Tipton said.

He said he did not know if there would be any changes to the parade because it was still in the planning stages.

The parade tied in well with other Christmas events, like activities for children, to be held at the convention center, he said. They had already planned to line up Christmas events at the center, and the parade will be scheduled Dec. 10, just before those events.

Although the Christmas parade usually draws locals and isn&8217;t a huge tourist draw, Tipton said he felt it was important to the city&8217;s overall image.

&8220;I don&8217;t want to detract from the statements made by Downtown Development,&8221; Tipton said. &8220;I think they or correct in not sponsoring that project. But we have a lot of interested people who have volunteered to help.&8221;

The Downtown Development Association sponsored the parade in the past but said recently the parade did not mesh with their current mission statement.

Tipton said he thought his relationship with city&8217;s police and public works departments would help him with the parade.

&8220;The police control the traffic, and public works puts up barricades and cleans up after the parade,&8221; he said.

The planning committee will announce a grand marshal soon, he said.

&8220;And we&8217;ve already solicited the fire department to ride a Santa Clause in a newer fire engine at the end of the parade,&8221; he said.

After this year, the parade will probably be handed to another to organize, he said.

&8220;This may just be a one-year project for me,&8221; he said. &8220;It&8217;s not within my normal focus on tourism efforts.&8221;