Silver Bells parade is coming to town Friday

A colorful float heads down Main Street during a previous Silver Bells Christmas Parade. This year’s parade is Friday at 6 p.m.

SALAMANCA — A Christmas parade down Main Street is back after a year off as a way to help kick off three weeks of celebrations in Salamanca’s annual Silver Bells Festival.

This Friday, the Silver Bells Christmas Parade will head out from Church and Atlantic streets at 6 p.m. and make its way to Jefferson Street Park for the annual tree lighting ceremony.

There is still time for participants to sign up their unit for the parade. The only requirement: you must have festive lights as part of your unit, whether by car, flatbed truck or on foot.

“If they’re walking, they have to have a string of lights around their neck or hats that light up or something that’s lit,” said Donna Raahauge, parade organizer. “And if they have a vehicle, put lights on it.”

Raahauge has been the parade organizer for the annual Salamanca Seneca Falling Leaves Festival for several years and took up the reins of the Silver Bells parade in 2017 after the city was without one for over a decade.

“As the tradition we’re trying to establish, it’s nice to have it back,” she said. “We were on our way to building that parade up, and now we’ve kind of slid back down the hill but we’re going to climb back up that hill.”

In recent years there were about 20 units, Raahauge said, but this year is expected to be a little smaller, partially due to the ongoing pandemic and partially due to other commitments happening on Friday nights.

“It’s just a little hard to get enthusiastic lately,” she said. “I’m hoping for 10 units.”

For next year, Raahauge said she’s hoping to hold the parade on a Saturday in hopes of getting more groups involved since many adults will be off work and the kids won’t have school activities and sports to attend.

Some of the usual units from past years will be there again, but one new unit is Decker Tree Service who will be dressing up his truck to look like the Grinch’s sleigh, Raahauge said. Some other groups include the Center Street Baptist Church and the Corner Deli is returning after taking 2019 off.

Units still looking to participate can sign up until right before the parade. Raahauge said some units have shown up the night of and been placed near the back of the parade.

“I got somebody else today, and I’m going to make a few more phone calls and see who we can find,” she added.

Line up for the parade begins at 5:30 p.m. on Atlantic and Church streets before stepping off at 6. Raahauge said it will be nice to keep the tradition alive, especially after the struggles of the past 20 months.

“It can’t all be exactly the same, but at least the parade is outside, the weather is cold and even if you have to wear a mask it’s probably going to keep your nose warm,” she said.

Appropriate seasonal weather has been scarce for the parade in the past. The inaugural year had rain and temperatures in the 40s while the 2019 parade was freezing cold but there wasn’t a snowflake in sight. Long-range forecast predictions show a high of 33, low of 27 and 30% chance of snow showers for Friday.

“It might be nice to have a little bit of snow,” Raahauge said. “Anything beats the rain.”

To sign up for the parade, call Raahauge at (716) 378-5468 or visit www.salamancachamber.org for an online application.

(Contact managing editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com)

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