Citizens Christmas parade

A group of families who have been regular attendees at Franklin holiday festivals and events each year have formally applied with the city of Franklin to hold what they’re calling a Citizens Christmas Parade through the streets of downtown on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to noon.

Their proposal, which was presented to the city for a permit not long after the Kiwanis Club of Historic Downtown Franklin announced it was canceling this year’s Christmas parade due to the impact from the coronavirus pandemic, will go before aldermen at Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session. The Kiwanis Club has for years been the sponsor of the annual Franklin Christmas Parade, the organization’s largest fundraiser.

“For a lot of us who live in Franklin, that [the cancellation] was kind of upsetting,” said Erin Holland, who has led the effort to plan for the new parade.

“I thought, well, maybe this is something we could take on. We could just do it as everyday Williamson County citizens.”

The proposed parade route would begin at Bicentennial Park and head south on Fifth Avenue to Five Points, where it would travel on Main Street to the town square and then north on Third Avenue back to Bicentennial Park. 

“This route will ensure ample sidewalk space for spectators to spread out,” Holland said in her communication to the city. “We will also refer people to local guidelines and recommendations as far as COVID precautions.”

Holland, who has had support from Kate Butler and Dabney Klein in organizing the parade, said she has visited numerous businesses in downtown Franklin for sponsorships and participation, and has heard from many families interested in helping out in a variety of ways. She is hoping the parade can include school marching bands as well as dance, cheer and other school clubs.

“We really tried to focus this parade on kids and kids groups and performance groups,” Holland said. “We just felt like everything is getting canceled on them, and they deserve a chance to perform for their parents and friends and community. 

“We thought a parade is a pretty safe bet. It’s outside and it’s spread out. We thought it would be good to have some Christmas traditions still alive in 2020.”

In its report to aldermen, city staff makes no specific recommendation on whether to approve or not, but does list several mostly safety-related conditions to be met if the parade is given the green light.

The group has set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses of the parade.

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