Crowd turns out for annual Jingle Bell Parade

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:15 AM

Residents lined Washington Avenue to watch the parade — which featured music, lighted floats and vehicles, businesses, and community organizations.

“I’ve come a few years in the past,” said Jennifer Nivison of Grand Haven resident. “It’s kind of fun for us to get out of the house and do something fun.”

Nivison was there with her children, and was one of hundreds of young and young-at-heart who attended the parade to watch the more than 70 entrants make their way through downtown Grand Haven.

The grand marshal for this year’s parade was Steve Loftis, who was recognized by the local Chamber of Commerce earlier this year with its Spirit of Community Award. The award honored his work in the community with events such as the Grand Haven ArtWalk.

The Grand Haven Lions Club handed out 2,500 cans of chicken noodle soup, donated by Don Armstrong of Grand Haven, during the parade. Honor students from Grand Haven High School and Boy Scout Troop 246 assisted in the can delivery.

Nivison said the parade was a good way for people to get out of the house and meet their neighbors in town.

“It’s nice to get out and see everyone out with the kids, baring the cold weather,” she said. “It’s good.”

Nivison said she was glad, too, that rainy weather that washed over the area most of Saturday held off for the evening’s event.

“We might have toughed it out even (if it was raining), but we’re glad it did stop,” she said.

Following the parade down Washington Avenue, revelers met at Central Park — where Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with Mayor Geri McCaleb, lit the Community Christmas Tree. The tree lighting included a carol sing with Santa and Mrs. Claus, led by Capt. Jay Davis of The Salvation Army, along with accompaniment from the Prevailing Winds Community Band.

Cindy Williams, who was visiting from Lansing, said she was enjoying all of the festivities on Saturday night.

“It’s great to see everyone out having a good time, at the downtown parade and at the tree lighting,” she said. “It’s what community is all about.”

With Santa having officially made his debut in Grand Haven on Saturday, families will be able to pay an official visit to him beginning Wednesday when the Kiwanis Club Santa House opens. It will be found between Fifth Third Bank and Jumpin’ Java on Washington Avenue. The house will stay open until Dec. 23.

Santa House hours are 6-8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday: Dec. 7-9, 14-16 and 21-23; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 10 and 17.

To see more photos from the event, click here.

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