ALPENA - Downtown Alpena will be lighted with the familiar glow of holiday lights during the annual Bolenz Jewelry Holiday Parade on Friday. The parade begins at the County Annex Building on the corner of Chisholm and Ninth Avenue, turns left onto Chisholm, left onto Second Avenue, right onto Water Street and ends in the parking lot behind city hall.
Since the holiday parade was changed into a night parade several years ago, participation has been growing, and each year the number of parade entries is in the 40s and 50s.
"It's a great parade for the whole family," Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jackie Krawczak said. "With all the lights and the energy each entry puts into the parade, and the weather, it's the perfect size. Almost every entry has lights, and a lot of them have music as well."
Area businesses and nonprofits both enter into the holiday parade, and this year a few businesses are celebrating anniversaries and have been working on some unique entries, according to Krawczak. But, with a November parade, Krawczak said weather plays a big part in spectator turn out.
"If it's nice out, the streets are lined with people three deep during the parade," Krawczak said. "Even when the weather is bad, the parade goes on. If it's cold, just bundle up and come enjoy the festivities. It's a great way we can come together as a community and get into the holiday spirit."
Each parade entry is eligible for a prize whether it is a commercial or non-commercial entry, with all the prizes provided by the main sponsor, Bolenz Jewelry, whose been sponsoring the parade for the last five years.
"We have commercial and non-commercial trophies for the float entries," Wayne Calkins, parade chairman for Bolenz Jewelry, said. "The commercial entries will receive trophies for the top three places, and non-commercial entries receive trophies and cash for the top five places, with prizes ranging from $250 for first to $50 for fifth place. Bolenz provides the cash prizes and trophies. Float entries must have a holiday theme and be lighted to be judged."
Winners will be announced immediately following the parade at the tree lighting ceremony in Culligan Plaza, where prizes will be distributed.
"Ever since it was moved to a night parade, the response has been overwhelming," Calkins said. "Everybody is out of work and families are able to come and see the parade. Downtown is packed."
Santa Claus also will be making a special appearance during the holiday parade, and will be at the Santa Shack in Culligan Plaza for the tree lighting ceremony afterward.
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.