A good parade, improved

Published 10:17 pm Friday, March 18, 2011

For years, the parade that the city of Suffolk holds during the Christmas season has been the highlight of the city’s holiday events. Folks line the streets along the long parade route to get a look at the bands, the floats, the fire trucks and the other units as they pass by, while they clutch warm cups of coffee and hot chocolate in an attempt to ward off the brisk December temperatures.

Things will be a bit different this year, as city officials have decided to hold the parade in the evening, instead of the morning. The thinking is that a later start will improve participation, encourage lighted floats and give people more of a chance to shop in the stores downtown while they’re in the area to watch the festivities.

It’s a good plan that shows a willingness to try something new to inject new life into an already popular event. Will the new timing contribute to downtown commerce? Only time will tell, but it seems sure that the change can’t hurt. Restaurants could benefit from the traffic of those coming and going from the parade, and retailers will be encouraged to do something special to entice shoppers to stop in and have a look around.

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During discussions about the topic, the city still insists on calling the event a “Holiday Parade,” instead of actually referring to the holiday it has always been meant to celebrate, and that insistence represents a misguided sop to political correctness.

Still, though, it’s good to know that Suffolk’s parade will continue to be held downtown and that the city is doing what it can to encourage folks from all parts of Suffolk to attend. The best advice for those who plan to be there is to dress warmly and arrive early enough to find a good place to park and have a chance to stroll the streets and check out the stores.

The parade is an excellent family event and, whatever organizers call it, a good way to get into the Christmas spirit. Holding it at night, with the Christmas lights adding to the cheer, should only improve it.