Green Forest’s Christmas Parade
on Saturday, December 5 at 10 a.m.
Green Forest’s Christmas parade is scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, December 5, and apparently will be Carroll County’s only Yuletide parade this year. Special arrangements are being made to keep it safe! “The state health department advised us that the Green Forest Christmas Parade is totally compliant as long as we socially distance and take a few preventative measures,” said Green Forest Chamber of Commerce President Ross Darby. This year’s theme: “The Joy of Christmas.” Berryville and Eureka Springs have cancelled their annual parades due to the pandemic. However, Green Forest is uniquely able to keep theirs safe, said Darby. “We’ve got the North Arkansas Livestock Auction and Cattlemen’s Restaurant parking lot that stretches along Main Street for a good quarter mile,” said Darby. “We’re extending the parade route to pass in front – so that folks can park facing the street and enjoy the parade from the safety of their cars.” As has been done for at least a century, the parade will start in front of Green Forest’s Old Gym and Fred Grim Gym. The street is wide to accommodate school bus loading – and parade participants annually assemble in the four lanes in front of the gyms – as well as down two side streets beside each gym. Traditionally, marchers, floats, folks on decorated bicycles, saddle clubs, fire trucks, kids carrying banners, decorated four-wheelers and troupes of singers and dancers begin getting in line around 9 a.m. Each year, the parade is led by a color guard from the local Boy Scouts, followed by Miss Green Forest waving from a convertible, followed by the Green Forest High School marching band and flag corps. Annually the GFHS Tiger Choir marches in the middle of the parade, pausing every few blocks to sing for spectators. There’s a rumor the Tyson chicken may make a special appearance! In recent years, the parade has showcased Green Forest’s unique cultural mix with lots of kids from all sorts of backgrounds. A favorite sight is a group of dancers whose heritage is Colombia, South America. In years past, dancers from the Filipino community won the award for the best marching group. This year, it is hoped that the parade will see kids and adults proudly representing Green Forest’s Guatemalan, Mexican, Marshallese and Karen churches. The parade route stretches down Tommy Ratzlaff Avenue to the Green Forest Square and west down Main Street. This year instead of turning back toward the school at the Methodist Church, the parade will continue past the sale barn parking lot, then end at the Harps Supermarket side parking lot. Volunteers from the Green Forest High School Beta Club have agreed to serve as parade marshals, walking along the route, staying jolly as they remind spectators to socially distance – to spread out around the Square and down the route. Special invitations have been made to law enforcement – with the hope that officers in uniform will walk the route. As always, cowboys, cowgirls and their horses and riding in wagons are a welcome part of the Green Forest parade. Throwing candy is a longtime tradition for the Green Forest Christmas parade and the state health department has approved it this year if candy-throwers wear food-handlers’ gloves that the Chamber of Commerce will provide. “The health department said we have to ensure the candy is sterile,” said Darby. “So, we are asking participants to bring store-bought bags of candy – and not to open the bags until they arrive at the parade staging area.” Social distancing will also be required on floats. Since the event is outside, masks will only be recommended if six-foot distancing can’t be maintained. Eighth and ninth graders from the Green Forest Youth Soccer referees corps will be on hand to scan temperatures and ask participants if they are symptom-free. Two special guests are expected. Green Forest seven-year-old kidney transplant recipient Alex Carpenter delighted in serving as the Grand Marshal last year, throwing candy to the crowd. This year, he’s been invited to sit ride with Santa. And the jolly old elf this year will be riding his sleigh. Mothballed for the last few years, the traditional, hand-made Green Forest parade sleigh is being brought out of mothballs. Volunteers will be welcome to help assemble it Friday before the parade. “Have you started planning your float?” asks Darby. “For this to be a great parade, we need you! Come march with your sports team or youth group! Ride with your saddle club or 4- wheeler buddies! Peddle on your decorated bicycle! Ride on your church’s or business’s float! “Throw candy! Lotsa candy! Join the fun!”
Our Jolly Christmas Greetings Sponsors 2020