After taking a year off due to COVID-19, the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade is back and looks to be bigger and better than ever.
Held at 11 a.m. the first Saturday of December (Dec. 4), the 2021 parade already has nearly 60 horse-drawn and riding group entries, include several new participants. In addition, the parade route has been extended for two extra blocks down Massachusetts Street, from Seventh Street to 15th Street, for more viewing areas.
The perfect way to start the Christmas season, spectators line the streets of downtown Lawrence eagerly awaiting the caravan of rigs pulled by horses, mules and donkeys adorned with garland, ribbons and jingle bells.
The Christmas Parade is truly unique in that it is comprised entirely of horses pulling historic carriages, buggies, wagons, carts — even a stagecoach — lavishly decorated for the holidays. Entries from all over the Midwest bring an array of horse and mule breeds, from gentle giants to miniature ponies. Riding groups in historic or seasonal attire and cowboy outriders add to the festivities. The goal of the parade is to entertain and educate spectators regarding the history of transportation and the contribution of the horse in the evolution of our culture. The horse-drawn vehicles must have wooden or metal wheels; rubber tires are not permitted.
What began in 1993 as one man’s idea to gather friends and spotlight the historic Eldridge Hotel in downtown Lawrence has grown to a nationally recognized all-horse-power event to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season. The parade is a labor of love managed by a group of Lawrence citizens and dedicated volunteers who spend many hours each year to organize, prepare accommodations, extend our hospitality and ensure the safety of both entrants and spectators.
We are thrilled that Envista Credit Union has chosen the parade as its EnvistaCares Challenge recipient during the month of November. Envista is helping promote the parade through emails, social media and radio and has issued a challenge to the community to donate to the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade. For every dollar given during the month of November, Envista will match up to $2,500. Giving can be done online at envistacares.com.
“We would not be able to have the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade without contributions from businesses and individuals,” said Marty Kennedy, president of the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade. “While participants from five states travel to Lawrence on their own dime, we provide stalls for the horses, a hotel room and dinner the night before to help offset their expenses. A number of other expenses are required to make this event a reality, and your donation will help us keep the tradition going for years to come.”
The Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade is a 501c3 so all donations are tax-deductible. Donations of more than $300 will be recognized on the parade’s website and in the program that is distributed on the day of the parade. Sponsors are also invited to the Douglas County Fairgrounds on Friday night before the parade to view the horses and attend the participant dinner.
Visit lawrencechristmasparade.org for more information.