More than just a parade: ‘Tis the Season Spectacular will have after-party at Bell Tower Green

Published 12:10 am Sunday, October 3, 2021

SALISBURY — The ‘Tis the Season Spectacular Christmas parade is transitioning back to a traditional procession for the 2021 holiday season, and the fun won’t stop once the parade ends. 

Shari Graham and Hen Henderlite, who organize the annual event, are teaming up with Salisbury Parks and Recreation to host The Holiday Spectacular at Bell Tower Green immediately following the parade. Along with live musical performances on the Bell Tower’s stage, the event will feature food trucks lining Fisher Street in front of the Rowan Public Library, a kid zone with activities and crafts and a North Pole where Santa Claus will receive toy requests.

“We had always said we wanted some kind of bash, or whatever you want to call it, at the end of the parade,” Graham said. “We kept thinking: What do we do? What do we do? Then the park started to evolve and we went to the Bell Tower Green and folks and said, ‘What do you think?’ And they were all in.”

The parade will be held Nov. 24 starting at 2 p.m. near East Jefferson Street in Spencer. The procession will reach Wallace and Graham in Salisbury around 3 p.m. and will finish around 4:30 near Stallings Memorial Baptist Church on South Main Street. The Holiday Spectacular at Bell Tower Green will start when the parade ends and will last until 8 p.m.

The 2020 ‘Tis the Season Spectacular was a “reverse parade,” but this year’s event will be a return to normal with patrons lining the streets of downtown Spencer and Salisbury while floats roll past.

“Everybody loves a traditional parade, everybody was asking about the parade and so it was kind of like everybody was leaning for us to go this way,” Graham said. “Not that everybody didn’t love the other way, but I think they were excited we were going to go traditional and more people can participate.”

Graham and Henderlite said they believe the natural spacing will allow for a safe event, but they are preparing for the unlikely scenario where they’ll have to host a reserve parade again. Any COVID-19 specific protocols will be announced closer to the parade. Reserved seating for the parade will be offered in both Spencer and Salisbury and can be purchased at tistheseasonspectacular.com.

The ‘Tis the Season Spectacular is currently accepting entries. Applications can be submitted from now until Nov. 5 on the parade website: tistheseasonspectacular.com. Applications can also be downloaded and brought to the Rowan County Tourism authority along with an entry fee check. Cash will not be accepted this year.

Graham and Henderlite said they are looking for a number of entries, including marching bands, church and youth groups, local businesses, dance troupes and local and regional entertainers. The entry list will be capped around 120.

As always, Graham and Henderlite said diversity is at the top of their list as they go about securing a “fun, balanced mixture” of parade entries.

“Our goal is to have a quality parade that’s inclusive and reflective of our community,” Henderlite said.

Several familiar participants and musical acts have already signed up this year. An Elvis impersonator has already committed, the drag queen float is planning to roll once again and the Shrine Club has expressed its intent to participate. There will be new additions too, perhaps none more exciting as the Chinese dragon that will weave its way through the route.

The grand marshal for this year’s parade will be healthcare workers from the Rowan County Health Department, who will lead the way on a float all their own. Graham and Henderlite said naming healthcare workers as grand marshal was a “no brainer” as they continue to work diligently to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is our way of thanking them,” Graham said. 

Graham and Henderlite are encouraging downtown businesses to decorate their storefronts like they did last year during the reverse parade.

“We still want downtown to decorate like they did last year,” Graham said. “We’d love for them to do it up and put the inflatable out. We like overstimulation.”

The ‘Tis the Season Spectacular’s presenting sponsor is once again Food Lion. The parade has raised over $40,000 in sponsorships thus far, but has a goal of raising $50,000 to pay for expenses and have enough left over to begin preparations for next year’s parade. For more information about sponsoring the parade, visit tistheseasonspectacular.com

Updates on the ‘Tis the Season Spectacular and The Holiday Spectacular will be posted to the website and can also be found on the event’s Facebook page.

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About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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