’Tis the season in St. Joseph.
The St. Joseph Women’s Club is holding a lighted Christmas Parade tonight at 5 p.m. The event will start at St. Joseph Middle School, follow Fifth Street to Grand and end at the St. Joseph Sports Complex.
Women’s Club member Casey Phillips said it was important to the club to keep this event, which was started last year by Audrey Short, going.
“The club’s mission isn’t just to have fundraising events in order to help the community, but to also offer fun and engaging events to bring people together,” she said.
For many years the group sponsored a Bedtime Stories with Santa event which was a family-friendly option for those with very young children who wouldn’t otherwise get to enjoy other holiday activities. Due to COVID-19, that event has been canceled for the past few years.
“The Lighted Parade that was put on in memory of Nadirah Edwards last year was incredible, and the community has been asking for an annual event,” Phillips said. “We reached out to the original organizers and checked with the high school to see if they were planning on doing another but they were unable to this year. After a lot of research and discussion between active members and the village, we decided that we could take on the responsibility of organizing this year’s and will then fold this into our yearly events that we put on.”
The Women’s Club hopes to have 30 to 50 entries in the parade. Anyone can still participate in the parade and lineup will start at 4:30 p.m. at the middle school.
Phillips said the parade will feature the Ansar Shriners and the Champaign County Fair Queen along with local businesses. Santa will also be making an appearance in the parade.
Phillips said the group hopes the parade helps foster a sense of community during the holiday season.
“We all have our own reasons why we chose to settle in the smaller towns, but what I have personally witnessed is that small towns foster support and a sense of community for those going through a hard time,” Phillips said. “Many of us don’t have ideal family units to lean on during tough times or the holidays and community events present an opportunity to meet neighbors and new friends. Events like these also give small local businesses and organizations a platform to shine with an opportunity to participate and get new eyes on their services/products without breaking tight marketing budgets. The talent and creativity that runs through small towns is surprising and there is great strength in our small numbers- we just need a reason to come together and events like these are the perfect nudge.”