Sunday marks the debut of a new name and a new route for the holiday celebration formerly called the Merchants Association of Columbia County Martinez Christmas Parade.
Beginning at 2 p.m., the new Merchants Association of Columbia County Martinez-Evans Christmas Parade will kick off from its new starting point on Ronald Reagan Drive in Evans.
The parade will then proceed east on Washington Road, turning right on North Belair Road and concluding in front of Bel Air Elementary School.
"We had to try a change (in the route) because of the congestion around Columbia Square and at Bobby Jones Expressway," said Billy Becton, the director of the merchants association and coordinator of the parade.
"The DOT (state Department of Transportation) frowned on closing Bobby Jones Expressway there at Washington Road and the general congestion along Columbia Road where we lined up," Becton said.
Parade entries will have the option of using the spacious field behind the Evans Kroger to line up and make last-minute changes to the floats.
Performing at the parade will be the marching bands from Lakeside, Evans and Greenbrier high schools. The Evans band will escort that special jolly guest dressed in red: Santa Claus.
Becton said folks lining the street should expect about 120 floats this year. The number had to be limited to 120 to fit each entry and Santa Claus into the two-hour TV broadcast time allotted to the parade, he said.
Augusta's CBS affiliate, WRDW (Channel 12), will televise the parade.
Becton said, as always, those lining the streets should expect a lot of Christmas cheer.
"The (official county) Christmas tree-lighting is Saturday night and that kicks off the Christmas season and then the parade on Sunday; it's such a festive time for the most joyous season of the year," he said.
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