Annual Christmas parade moves to nighttime

Published 10:57 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Parade: Suffolk officials announced they will move the annual Christmas parade to the nighttime in an effort to increase participation, spectators and traffic to local businesses.

This year’s Christmas parade in downtown will be held in the nighttime, Suffolk officials said last week.

The move is anticipated to increase the number of participants and spectators and the amount of traffic downtown businesses receive that day and throughout the season, according to a letter from City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn to City Council members.

Suffolk downtown proponent Andy Damiani agreed that an evening start time would attract a much larger crowd, but seemed doubtful whether the change would increase commerce.

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“I’m all for it,” Damiani said. “We’ll see what happens that night.”

Cuffee-Glenn wrote that records show Suffolk has hosted only one nighttime parade in the past, but that event was the best-attended parade in Suffolk history, with attendance estimated at 3,500.

“Many downtown businesses have requested that the parade be held at night,” Cuffee-Glenn wrote. “This would allow for increased commerce during business hours. Also, moving the parade to a nighttime event may also increase our number and types of participants.”

Since most other Hampton Roads cities have nighttime parades, participants in those events will be encouraged to enter their lighted floats in Suffolk’s parade.

In addition, Cuffee-Glenn wrote, the nighttime parade would allow for an opportunity to explore additional holiday lighting downtown, as well as spreading out the lighted figures typically located at Market Park.

“We look forward to partnering with downtown businesses, neighborhoods and churches in an effort to maximize resources and spread the holiday spirit,” Cuffee-Glenn wrote.

The parade is set for Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.