Every year my son and I bundle up, fill our thermoses with hot chocolate and head down to the Christmas12-08-10-parade.gif parade that runs through the center of our city. It is as much a part of our holiday tradition as tree trimming or getting together with family. Just the sight of the large colorful floats, marching bands and of course, Santa Claus, lets you know that the holiday season is upon us.

However, this will be our first year attending a parade in Fayetteville, and we are excited to see what is in store for us. The grand marshall of this year’s parade is Boomerang Cartoon Networks Scooby Doo, who is appearing courtesy of Channel 14 Carolina News. Scooby won’t be joined by the rest of his gang, but he will be joined by 10 Cumberland County bands, homemade and commercial floats and more than 90 entries. Oganizers believe this year’s parade is sure to be stellar.

For more than 20 years the parade has been put together by the members of the Fayetteville Rotary Club, a group of men that was formed to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards and help promote goodwill and peace in the world. In 1999, once they discovered there was to be no Christmas procession that year, they decided to band together with two other local Rotary Clubs to take on this excellent community service project. The members organized every detail of the parade themselves, proving that they live by their motto, “Service before self.” With the first year’s parade planner called away, Johnson Chestnut and Matthew Smith stepped up agreeing to cochair, and have been in charge ever since.

Smith says this year’s parade is “A parade for the children of Cumberland County to not only observe and enjoy, but also participate in. We have invited one child from each of the Cumberland County schools to ride in one of the Rotary floats in the Christmas parade. It gives them an opportunity that they may never have again in a lifetime.”

Many local businesses are pitching in and lending their support to make this parade a spectacular one as well, including Taco Bell, Long John Silvers and Time Warner Cable.

“This will be the 11th year that we have put this parade on, and we have been both overwhelmed and touched by the response from our sponsors,” said Smith.

The procession will begin at 11 a.m and will start at Person Street, go to the Market House, then Hay Street and end at the Amtrak Station. If by chance you cannot make it downtown to see the parade in person, don’t fret, it will be televised on Channel 14 (although it will be time delayed and won’t be aired until 6 p.m. Saturday) and will be available On Demand the following week.

Come out and and catch the holiday spirit at this year’s 2010 Rotary Parade — and don’t forget your hot chocolate!

Don't miss the Christmas Parade on Dec. 11.

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