FALL RIVER — The holiday season will get into full swing on Dec. 4 with the return of a long-beloved holiday tradition. After a year on pause, the Children's Holiday Parade will make its way down South Main Street, ringing in the season's festivities.
The end of the parade will dovetail into activities at Government Center culminating in the lighting of the city's Christmas tree at 4 p.m. And for those lucky enough to snag a ticket before they run out, the festivities continue that evening with the Sons of Serendip concert in the new auditorium at B.M.C. Durfee High School. On Sunday, the family-friendly holiday festivities continue with Re-Creation's annual Christmas Holiday Celebration from noon to 3 p.m.
"Dec. 4 is going to be a great time to kick off the holiday season in Fall River," said Mayor Paul Coogan.
The Dec. 4 festivities start at 1 p.m. when the parade kicks off at Kennedy Park.
Last year, due to the pandemic, the parade was re-fashioned into a much smaller drive-by vehicle parade that traversed the city. Now in its 37th year, the parade will be back with Santa and his elves, giant inflatable character balloons, floats, marching bands, fife and drum corps and all of the festive sights that make up the annual event.
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"It's going to be a great day with participation from all the city's schools," said Coogan. No stranger to marching in the parade, even prior to being mayor, Coogan said it's a fun event that he's looking forward to taking part in again this year.
Grace Gerling, executive director of Greater Fall River Re-Creation, the organizer of the annual parade, said parade-goers will have some new sights to take in this year, including a gold coronation coach on loan from Newport's Belcourt Castle. As a thank-you to first responders and COVID frontline workers, a select few will have the honor of riding in the carriage, said Gerling.
Among the new sights in this year's parade will be Cranberry Knoll Arabian Horses of Fairhaven, two new bagpiping units: Boston Police Gaelic Pipers and the RI Firefighters Bagpipers and a parade contingent from Bristol County Agricultual High School.
There will also be plenty of old favorites, including the Aleppo Shriners, Hallamore Clydesdales, Durfee's marching band, Miss Massachusetts and fire vehicles, both antique and new.
As of Monday, Gerling said they had about 85 units and she expected a few more would sign on. "I think people are ready to bring back the events that they've watched and participated in for so many years, like the parade," said Gerling.
This year, the parade is funded through $70,000 in ARPA COVID relief funds as it falls under the tourism/economic development category, said Gerling. One reason they sought to use the funds for the parade is because they didn't want to ask local businesses to sponsor the parade, as those businesses have been impacted by the pandemic closures, according to Gerling. The uncertainty about whether or not they could hold the parade also hampered typical fundraising events that take place earlier in the year, she said.
Sons of Serendip concert
Later in the evening, the Sons of Serendip will return to the city for the band's third annual holiday performance in Fall River. Last year the band performed live at the Narrows Center for the Arts and the concert was televised. This year, the Sons of Serendip concert will be free. The band will be the first to perform on the stage at the new auditorium at Durfee.
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The Sons of Serendip concert will be held at Durfee High School, 460 Elsbree St., on Saturday, Dec. 4; doors open at 6:15 p.m. and music starts at 7:15 p.m.
Best known as finalists on the ninth season of the TV competition "America’s Got Talent," Sons of Serendip are a quartet consisting of a harpist, cellist, pianist and lead vocalist. Joining them on Dec. 4 will be The Jabberwocks, Brown University’s oldest A Capella group.
Sponsored by Bristol County Savings Bank, the event is free but tickets are required. A limited number of tickets are available at City Hall and online via Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/211827741477.
In lieu of admission, guests are asked to bring an unwrapped toy for the Fall River Police Department/Law Enforcement Assisting Families annual toy drive.
Parking will be available in the school lots off of Elsbree Street with overflow parking available in the West Main parking lot on Ray Street. For more information and updates on the event, visit https://fb.me/e/1g126Jq0b
This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Fall River Children's Holiday Parade set for Dec. 4