Santa Claus is coming to Waynesboro on Saturday for the annual Christmas parade.
Susan Roberts, Waynesboro parks and recreation superintendent, estimates that this year’s parade will have 30 floats and 85 different groups participating.
The Toy Convoy will lead the way, Roberts said. Parade viewers are encouraged to consider bringing a toy to donate. All toys donated for kids in need will remain in the Waynesboro community, she said. Non-profits entering the parade were asked to donate a toy rather than pay a monetary registration fee. The Waynesboro Salvation Army will hand out the toys for Christmas.
“You may be helping out neighbors that you don’t even know you’re helping out. It’s kind of nice to be able to promote that spirit of giving, which is a big part of Christmas,” said Roberts.
Dogs will be quite involved with the parade this year, Roberts added. The city saw an increase in pet-themed group entries.
“What’s more Christmas-y than to have a furry dog sitting there?” she said.
Parks and recreation has worked with other city departments since August to organize the beloved community tradition. Public Works, the police department, and the parks and rec maintenance staff are all helping to make the parade happen, Roberts said. She is grateful for the dedicated team effort.
Parks and recreation is not the only organization that has been long preparing for the Christmas parade.
The Mountain Heritage Cloggers are one of the 85 groups scheduled to appear in the parade, and they have done so for more than 15 years. The dancers will roll through downtown on a double-decker tourist bus float, dressed in costumes inspired by the Rockettes Christmas spectacular as they dance to Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree.”
The dedicated group spends four weeks practicing their routine and devoting hours to building their float, but starts thinking about the parade as early September.
“We’ve been really fortunate enough that we have some very creative, talented, helpful dancers and parents that come up with ideas,” said Lisa Johnson, director and instructor for the Mountain Heritage Cloggers. Last year, parents and dancers teamed up to build a 12-foot long train for a Polar Express theme.
“This year the dancers had a blast,” Johnson said. “We had dads cutting wood, and we had the younger girls painting.”
Others bring food to the work sessions. Building the float provides an opportunity for bonding outside of traditional practice settings, Johnson said.
Bryan and Miandra Cash lend their property to the group as they build their float. The group has also received donations of paint and brushes from Ace Hardware. Square bales of hay have also been donated. Johnson is extremely grateful for how the community has banded together to support the cloggers.
“It is a group effort,” Johnson said.
She is proud of her team for the love and hard work they put in to each year’s parade.
“The most rewarding part is the dancers being so excited from year to year. Everything they’ve worked so hard for, they’re proud,” Johnson said.
Johnson and the entire group are excited to participate in the parade and bring entertainment and cheer to parade spectators.
Three food vendors will be at the parade to provide refreshments for attendees, Roberts said. The Lions Club will offer free hot chocolate, and the New Valley Church on Arch Avenue will give away cookies and hot chocolate. Other food, like cotton candy, popcorn and candy apples, may be purchased from Millers on the corner of Arch Avenue and Main Street.
The parade begins promptly at 6 p.m.