52nd Holiday Caravan to roll through Salisbury, Spencer
By Emily Ford
The weather forecast looks a little grim, but organizers of the 52nd annual Holiday Caravan parade are holding out hope for sunny skies Wednesday, or at least no afternoon showers.
The parade, which marks the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, will begin at 2 p.m. in Spencer at Bojangles’ and make its way south to Salisbury, where the caravan will resume at 3 p.m. on Main Street. The parade begins in Salisbury at Kerr Street and ends at Military Street.
“The weather forecast seems to be dampening things a little bit, but at this point they’re calling for morning rain only,” organizer Wesley Perry said.
Even though early drizzle could mean a soggy line-up for the 133 parade units, Perry said he’s got his fingers crossed the skies will clear by the time hundreds of participants begin marching, riding and dancing down Salisbury Avenue in Spencer.
The parade goes on rain or shine.
Longtime Granite Quarry Civitan Club leader Bill Fisher will serve as grand marshal. Fisher was the N.C. District West Civitan Governor from 2007 to 2008 and has held many offices with the Granite Quarry club, which honored him with the Civitan International Foundation Fellow Award.
Elizabeth Safrit, a sophomore at the University of South Carolina, is the 2011 Miss Holiday Caravan. She has spent the past year representing the area as Miss Rowan County and raising awareness about childhood cancer.
Kristin Harmon, an honor graduate of North Rowan High School, will ride in the parade as Miss Weather Girl.
Nine bands will march in the caravan, including Ashe County High School and Harding University, two crowd favorites that didn’t participate last year. Overton Elementary School Mini Funk Band returns with a full-fledged marching band this year and close to 100 members.
Nineteen beauty queens will appear. Miss Teens from both North and South Carolina will sign autographs from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Longhorn Steakhouse in Salisbury before they take their place in the parade.
The caravan will feature 15 professional floats and dozens of homemade entries. Shriners playing steel drums and zooming around on go-carts, as well as hillbillies, will return to entertain thousands who line the parade route every year.
Two calliopes restored by Ed Brown will join the lineup, one privately owned and the other from Dan Nicholas Park, Perry said.
Food Lion is the parade’s major sponsor this year with a $5,000 donation.
“If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know if we could even have a parade anymore, the costs are getting so high,” Perry said. “We normally run about $35,000 to put it down the road.”
Expenses include renting professional floats, covering expenses for the bands and Shriners, insurance, marketing, permits and more, he said.
“People don’t realize how expensive it is to put this on,” said Perry, one of nine volunteers who serve on the Holiday Caravan Board of Directors.
Parade entry fees are $100 for nonprofits and $250 for businesses.
Reserved seating is still available for $4.50 in Spencer and Salisbury. To buy a seat, call 704-636-5335 before the parade or see a board member during the parade.
Members of the Salisbury Civitan Club will serve as parade marshals again this year.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.