Route different for Parade of Lights in Champaign

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign Park District wants parade watchers to know about several changes in the 10th annual Holiday Parade of Lights, scheduled for 6 p.m. today.

The route is different this year, with the parade no longer going all the way around West Side Park, said spokeswoman Lisa Sprinkle. Park officials felt the parade was too long, given the cold weather, "and the majority of viewership was in downtown Champaign," she said. "We really wanted to concentrate the parade in that area."

The parade will begin on Neil Street, near One Main Plaza, and wind its way through downtown Champaign along Main, Walnut, Chester, Park, State and Church streets before ending with the annual tree-lighting ceremony in front of One Main at 7 p.m.

With the theme "Sounds of the Season," the parade will feature lighted floats playing favorite holiday songs, strolling carolers and the University of Illinois a capella group No Comment.

Musical entertainment will begin at 5:30 p.m. at One Main Plaza, but no other stages will be set up along the parade route, contrary to information originally published on the park district's website and in The News-Gazette.

Free hot chocolate will be available along the route. And after the parade, you can get your picture taken with a special North Pole visitor, who arrives at 6:45 p.m.

You can also bring a toy to put under the tree. Donations benefit the Champaign Shop-With-A-Cop program and Champaign County Toys for Tots.

In case of bad weather, the parade will be postponed until 6 p.m. Sunday. Saturday's forecast calls for snow and temperatures around 30 degrees.

For more information, call 217-398-2550 or visit the park district's website.  

The parade will disrupt bus routes through the downtown area, starting about 1:30 p.m. The affected MTD lines: Red, Lavender, Green, Grey and Yellow. For more information, call 384-8188 or see the MTD online.

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