Here is a telling sign on whether or not a community enjoys an annual event: how many people show up when it happens.
Starting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, December 7, the 62nd Annual Salem Christmas Parade, as well as the lighting of the Christmas tree in the Farmers Market, will take place on Main Street.
People of all ages have come to the parade over the last six decades. Jill Sluss, Executive Director of the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce, expects a huge crowd to show up this year.
“The parade really is the kick-off to the holiday season in Salem where I feel that everyone just comes together to find out who is in it and what fantastic themes are chosen,” Sluss said. “We have had some unique categories over the years. Old Fashioned Christmas, Religious, Children’s and Band are just a few.”
The argument can be made, according to Roanoke County resident Charles Jackson, that the Salem Christmas Parade is the most anticipated local event each year.
It is difficult to put into words exactly what the Annual Salem Christmas Parade means to Teresa Sizemore-Hernandez.
“It’s Christmas and community spirit all lined up in one event. It seems like each year the parade just gets better and better,” Sizemore-Hernandez, the Salem Band Boosters Treasurer, said. “I’m thankful to all that give their time and energy to organize this amazing event. I hope this year we set an attendance record.”
Countless Salem Christmas Parade memories have been made over the years by so many Salem natives and visitors.
“With the exception of 1981, I’m pretty sure that I’ve attended every Salem Christmas Parade since 1969, which was the year that I was born,” Wendy Wall said. “It is exciting for kids of all ages, especially those of us who will never outgrow it.”
Added North Carolina native Patrick Thomas: “This is the first time in 15 years that I’m going to be able to bring all of my immediate family with me. I can’t wait to see all of the floats and attractions.”