09 SANTALooking for a fun and festive event to go to this holiday season? Look no further than the Rotary Christmas parade. The parade will take place Dec. 14 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Cool Spring Downtown District.

This will be the 20th year for the parade. The event will be filled with dancers, music and so much more. What started out as a simple event founded by the Fayetteville Rotary Club has now become an annual parade that many people enjoy each year.

ShaDonna “Mo” McPhaul is an announcer for the parade and the public relations coordinator for the Liberty Point Rotary Club. She said, “My favorite part about the Rotary Christmas parade is seeing the smiles on the children’s faces, the dance teams and the high school bands.

“The parade is important to the community because it brings us together to enjoy the holiday spirit. This year our theme is ‘Youth Leadership,’ and we are taking the opportunity to highlight our youth and encourage them to lead us into the future.”

In 1999, a member of The Fayetteville Rotary Club learned that there was no established Christmas parade in Fayetteville. So, the Fayetteville rotary Club decided to collaborate with the other two Rotary clubs in Fayetteville to start one and ensure that there would, in fact be a Christmas parade. This was done as a service project for the city of Fayetteville.

 The first Christmas parade had around 50 entries. Now, the parade gets around 110-120 units. Rotary is the sole sponsor of the event. Some companies that have worked with The Fayetteville Rotary Club in the past on the parade are Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell.

Planning the parade is a yearlong event. The first thing that happens occurs the day of the previous parade. On parade day, the floats for the following year are ordered.

Matthew Smith is a chairman on the parade committee and one of the members of The Fayetteville Rotary Club that helped start the parade. The preparation of the parade, he said, “In May, we start meeting and deciding on what we are going to do for the coming year. We meet on and off at least once a month.

“In the May to July period, the grand marshal is confirmed. In September to October, the list of elementary schools their principals and contact information are verified so that proper contact can be made for the child to represent their school in the parade. November to December, contact is made with Parks and Recreation, the Cumberland County manager for use of the main and auxiliary parking lots, city manager for use of the parking lot behind City Hall and NCDOT for the blocking of a portion of Russell Street, and a vendor for the porta potties.”

The route of the parade begins at the main parking lot behind the Court house and ends at the auxiliary lot across from Person Street. Visit https://www.rotarychristmasparade.com/ for more information about the parade.

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