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The days are getting colder and the nights are coming earlier. In North Carolina this can only mean one thing: Christmas is coming. As Dec. 25 approaches, the Christmas spirit can be felt at most every shop and on every decorated lawn. One of the ways that Hope Mills shares all this spirit is at the annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting. What better way is there to spread the holiday spirit than by driving huge colorful floats and brightly decorated vehicles through the streets and singing carols with the community?

Hope Mills Parks and Recreation has been organizing this parade for many years. The very first year they had 40 units participating in the event. The parade has grown tremendously since then. In 2012, there were 114 participants. Though the size of the parade may grow, it has never lost the fun and festive spirit on which it was founded. “This is a traditional parade and a great way for families to have fun. There will be bands playing traditional Christmas carols and many different floats to watch,” says Kenny Bullock, Hope Mills Parks and Recreation director, who has been working with the parade for six years.

The parade is a family-oriented event. Beautiful floats and Christmas music will capture the imaginations of young and old and many floats will also hand out candy. The entire goal of the event is to bring fun and holiday spirit to the entire community. Bullock reflects this view by saying that the most rewarding part of the parade is, “Seeing the kids excited. It is especially exciting if the people in the crowd know someone on the float, it really hypes them up. It’s great to see the community come and support the parade.”

There have been some changes made to the rules in the parade this year. In past years people have been able to throw candy from the floats. This year that will not be allowed. Floats will have people walking beside them to hand out candy. This rule is intended to make sure that children don’t run into the streets and into possible danger. Like always, the floats will be as beautiful as ever. “Color, bright colors, and the people on the float being excited and involving the crowd is important. I love the colors of the red, green, white and gold.” Bullock said when describing the ideal float, “I remember going to parades when they were at night and seeing the Christmas lights. When we saw the bright colors coming we would say ‘Oh, that’s gonna be a good one.’”

The Hope Mills Christmas Parade starts on Main St. and will run from 3 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 7. For more information visit http://174.132.145.94/~hope/index.php/departments/parks-and-recor call 424-4500. After the Christmas Parade, there will also be the Hope Mills Festival of Lights at Hope Mills Lake at 5:30 p.m.

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