By Harley Nefe
Family and friends have another holiday activity to look forward to in the High Country as Watauga County Parks and Recreation’s Drive-Thru Christmas Parade is scheduled to happen this Saturday, Dec. 12 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Watauga Community Recreation Center parking lot, located at 231 Complex Drive in Boone.
Visiting groups will be able to enjoy the beauty and spirit of the holiday season from the comfort, care and warmth of their cars and have the opportunity to listen to holiday music while they follow a route to experience the different exhibits of parade floats and entertainers who will be set up in the parking lot for cars to drive by, come rain or shine.
“We’re just super excited,” said Keron Poteat, Head Elf of the Christmas drive-thru parade. “It looks like we’re going to have good parade weather and by that I mean it may be a little cloudy, which would be perfect because I think people’s Christmas lights will show up better.”
The drive-thru parade will have close to 40 floats and exhibits distanced six feet apart from each other in their own parking spots for visitors to see, ranging from dance groups, to churches, to horses, to businesses and a live remote from a local radio station. Santa will also be present and be at the last stop on the parade route for everyone to see.
Santa’s Toy Box will also be accepting donations of new unwrapped toys at their spot in the parade line up.
Some of the parade personnel may give out candy or gifts following COVID-19 protocols. If folks do not want anybody giving them goodies, event staff ask that they keep their car windows rolled up, drive along and wave.
In order to keep this a COVID-19 aware event, standing spectators or walk-thru parade seers will not be permitted to the festivities nor is anyone allowed out of their vehicles to pose for pictures. Event staff will try to keep cars moving during the event to allow as many folks to view the parade as possible.
Event staff is estimating to see around 1,000 drive-thru attendees.
“They can sit there with their heaters blasting and Christmas music playing as they drive through and just look at all of the Christmas spirit going on around them,” Poteat said.
If people want to see the parade, event staff ask them to get in line early because they may have to end the line just before 1 p.m. when the event is scheduled to end.
The Boone Police Department will direct traffic in and out of Martin Luther King Drive and back onto State Farm Road. There will also be electronic signs prior to and during the parade to help notify and direct the public throughout the area.
For people wanting to attend, cars should enter from Deerfield Road. There will be no left turns, so cars can’t cut across traffic. Therefore, if someone is coming down State Farm Road toward Watauga Medical Center, they won’t be able to turn left onto Martin Luther King Jr. Street. Right turns only are allowed coming into the parade area as well as leaving. Vehicles will have to head up on State Farm Road when they leave.
“For emergency vehicles in particular, especially with the hospital being right there, we want to make sure that there is free flowing traffic all the time in the right hand lane,” Poteat said.
A map showing the parade traffic pattern can be found below (click to enlarge):
The set up time for vendors will be from 10-10:30 a.m. and only the actual parade floats and exhibits will be able to park in the WCRC parade lot. All other extra staff, dancers, parade exhibitors are asked to park in the State Farm lot adjacent to the fields and parking area to cut down on preliminary traffic into the event.
For more information, call 828-264-9511 or email Keron Poteat, Recreation Specialist II for Watauga County Parks and Recreation, at [email protected].
In addition, the Watauga County Parks and Recreation’s website is https://rec.watgov.org as well as their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Watauga-County-Parks-and-Recreation-232565740490593.
Parade exhibitors include:
Watauga County Schools
High Country Dance Studio
Medi Home Health & Hospice
Laurel Gordon & Co
New River Light & Power
Boone Chamber of Commerce
Appalachian Rhythm Clogging and Dance
Charlie Wallin County Commissioner
Girl Scout Troop 10289
Boone VFW Post 7031
High Country Young Life
Grace Lutheran Church
Hampton’s Body Shop
Sole Impact Studios
Harvest House Dance Studio
Mast General Store
Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church
Shannon Shanely’s TEACKS Pandemic School Pod
High Country Soccer Association
Watauga Co License Plate Agency
The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge Liberty Healthcare
DJ Trevor Owens
Watauga County Parks & Recreation