The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade past New York's Central Park and the New Year's Day Rose Parade in Pasadena may be the most famous stomps down public streets. But Ashland's Festival of Light succeeds without giant cartoon balloons or flower-bedecked floats. Instead, Santa Claus, dancers and carolers will merrily stroll East Main Street on Friday, Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving.
The parade is aptly named the Festival of Light because a signal will be made and suddenly a million snow-colored dots will illuminate downtown buildings.
The event starts at 1 p.m. with music in the Plaza in what could be sunshine. At 5 p.m., Santa's parade rolls by children and their parents who have lined the sidewalks from the Ashland library to the Plaza.
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Seemingly in a flash, but around 45 minutes later, a very jolly Santa Claus will start his countdown, witnessed by what appears to be all of Ashland. With a theatrical flip of a switch, he will ignite the sky and then welcome everyone to join him and Mrs. Claus in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Black Swan Theater at the corner of East Main and South Pioneer streets.
Recommended viewing spots for the lighting ceremony are in the Plaza, the intersection at Oak and East Main streets, and the Black Swan. Arriving an hour early guarantees a spot on the sidewalk or grass. But regardless of your vantage point, you will have an awe-inspiring view of what looks like the release of a million flittering fireflies, and with that the holiday season begins.
Amelia Covert Zeve, 13, is an Ashland-based writer and wilderness enthusiast who attends Ashland Middle School. Contact her at email@example.com.