Freeman ready to rock annual Christmas parade in Joplin

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Oct. 30—Those who attend the Joplin Christmas parade this year will be "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."

That's the theme for the 53rd annual event to be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5. The procession will rock its way that night on Main Street from 15th Street north to Second Street.

Freeman President and CEO Paula Baker announced the theme Monday morning. Joplin's mayor, Doug Lawson, presented Baker with the official city parade permit.

"Freeman has produced the Joplin Christmas parade since 2014, and we're honored the city of Joplin entrusts us with this job," Baker said.

The parade is a big production that takes hundreds of volunteer hours to put together, she said.

"We embrace this challenge because it's our way of giving back to this community that we love so much and the community that has supported us for more than 98 years," Baker said.

"Always, Freeman's goal is to provide much more than medical care to the region. We always want to be a good neighbor and actively participate in events and service projects that are so important to our local communities," she said.

The mayor commended Freeman executives and employees for their work to put on the traditional fete.

"Freeman Health System has been an important part of our community for numerous decades," the mayor said. "It's good that Freeman isn't just taking care our health care needs. They are taking care of our holidays and making a difference in our world. There is an awful lot of work that goes into a parade, especially the magnitude of the one that happens for our Christmas parade. Every year, they have done spectacular work."

The parade marshal will be Annette Thurston, Baker announced. Thurston has been the executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States since its inception and construction 26 years ago. She is retiring from that role Dec. 31.

Want to participate?

Entries are being accepted for the parade. There is no fee for schools or bands to participate. Nonprofit organizations can enroll for $15, and there is a $50 entry fee for businesses and other registrations.

There is space for 75 floats. Entries close Nov. 25.

Because the holiday season is a time to reflect and for people to open their hearts to those in need, Baker said, money raised by the entry fees is donated to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. That organization provides services to children from birth up to age 21.

"This is an organization that makes miracles happen for children all the time. Every day. They help with medical care. They help with transport to get children where they need for medical treatment and all of the expenses associated with that," Baker said.

Lighted entries are again encouraged.


The theme for this year's Christmas parade is "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." Globe — Roger Nomer

Baker said parade judges will look for an overall winner reflecting the theme as well as entries in individual categories.

"When we score the entries, we look for a number of things: how closely did it align with the theme, how creative was it, does it really embody the spirit of the Christmas parade and how appealing was the float or entry," she said. "We welcome every type."

The parade typically attracts a large crowd, she said.

"We hope the streets will be completely lined. No matter what the weather, it's going to be a beautiful night in Joplin," Baker said.

Those interested in an entry may submit contact information by email to joplinchristmasparade@ freemanhealth. com. Questions should be directed to Sally Currence, Freeman special events coordinator, at 417-347-4624.

More information can be found at www.freeman parade.