Parade combines Shriners, Christmas cheer

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Ready for some holiday cheer? Saturday’s Historic Downtown Wilson Christmas Parade should get you in the Christmas spirit with floats, dancers, horses, marching bands and, of course, Santa Claus.

This year’s annual parade, starting at 11 a.m., will begin with the Sudan Shriners’ annual Ceremonial Parade. This year’s potentate, Edwin “Teeny” Jones, is from Wilson. That means the Ceremonial Parade takes place in his hometown. The Wilson parade is the largest Shrine parade in North Carolina this year, according to Susan Kellum, downtown marketing and communications coordinator for the city of Wilson.

Kellum said the Shriners will have 25 to 30 units in their parade. More had been expected, she said, but some Shriner units were affected by Hurricane Florence and are unable to participate this year.

Before the Shriners’ parade, there will be a 30-minute pre-show at the intersection of Tarboro and Nash.

Kellum said the Shriners will be selling yardstick canes along the parade route as a fundraiser for Shriners Hospitals for Children. The parade will include children who get assistance at the hospitals.

“The last cane sold this year will be sold in Wilson,” she said. “Signed by the potentate, it is considered a collector’s item.”


Once the Shriners’ parade ends, the Wilson parade begins, she said, and will include 85 units. Both parades run along Nash Street from Whitehead Avenue to Douglas Street.

The theme for this year’s Christmas parade is Retro Christmas. Participants were asked to pick a decade and highlight themes the crowds would remember.

Eight groups, including dancers and cheer teams, have been chosen for a performance stop at Nash and Tarboro streets. Judges will watch the performances and choose winners. The groups had to submit an audition video before they were chosen.

John Moore, broadcaster and radio show host, will work with Kellum to offer commentary during both parades. Kellum said Moore is a Shriner and will have good insight.

This year’s grand marshal, Lee Gliarmis, is also a Shriner, she said. Gliarmis is the owner of Dick’s Hot Dog Stand.

Downtown restaurants will be open, including Bill’s Grill on Nash, Tig’s Courtyard, Kreuger’s Candy and Hot Dogs, SaYum Jamaican and Da Bayou. Food trucks will be set up along the parade route by 9:30 a.m. Food trucks include Everette’s Concessions, Krueger’s Hot Dog Cart, Hot Dawg Wagon and Taste of Texas.

In past years, Wilson’s Downtown Christmas events have followed the parade, but that is not the case this year. Downtown Christmas featuring Candyland is Saturday, Dec. 1, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Light Up Wilson is that night at 6 at Courthouse Plaza.

If you can’t make it to the parade on Saturday, you can watch it at home at WCS-TV 22, on both Greenlight and Spectrum, Kellum said. Check the Facebook page for Historic Downtown Wilson for times that the parade will be aired on later dates.