The City of Sparks Hometowne Christmas parade weekend will begin Friday with the annual tree lighting ceremony and end with the Christmas parade on Saturday.
The annual tree lighting ceremony will be held on Friday evening, the night before the parade, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. next to the large gazebo on the corner of Victorian Avenue and Victorian Plaza Circle. The city’s permanent living Christmas tree, a blue spruce, was installed in 2014. The ceremony will include a festive musical program from Sparks High School, Mayor Martini’s Alma Mater.
The mayor will flip the switch for the lights on the tree.
“This theme is not only a celebration of our great state, but the amazing people are the heart and soul of this place – like our Mayor,” Francine Burge, special events supervisor said. The parade is a festive tradition for the holiday season with marching bands, costumes, animals, floats and more. The parade route travels from east to west on Victorian Avenue from Pyramid to 16th street and begins at 1 p.m. The two major floats, City Council and Santa, are sponsored by Baldini’s Casino and Rail City Casino, respectively.
The Grand Marshal of the parade is Sparks Mayor Geno Martini. “This year is bittersweet, my last one as Mayor,” said Martini. “I am honored to serve the citizens of Sparks and to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season with the tree lighting ceremony and parade.” The mayor will kick off the parade in style in a new Tesla Model 3 car, courtesy of Tesla Motors.
The tree lighting ceremony will have entertainment and treats. Additionally, the Sparks Rotary Club will be pulling winning tickets for their Mad Money Raffle, with a grand prize of $10,000, $1,000 for first place, plus other prizes. Tickets will be sold until Dec. 1 for $100. Those who wish to purchase tickets can go to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The proceeds from the raffle go to Kids Free Fishing Day, Sparks Police Explorers, youth rotary programs, and Diedrichsen & Lincoln Park Elementary Schools.
The Mayor’s Own Marching Band will be featured in the parade, showcasing the musical talents of Sparks middle school and high school students in a single large marching band. The band, sponsored by the Nugget Casino Resort, is comprised of more than 200 students from Sparks Middle School, Shaw Middle School, Sparks High School and Spanish Springs High School.
To help audience members requiring assistance, wheelchair seating area will be provided along the parade route on the northeast corner of 10th & Victorian.
The Sparks Gives Back Challenge encourages citizens to give back during the holiday season. “Since this season is all about giving, we incorporated a mechanism to recognize our neighbors that help each other out,” Burge said. To win the 2018 VIP package, people were encouraged to post random acts of kindness with the hashtag #Sparksgivesback. This year’s winner, Kaci Mitchell, posted this message on the City of Sparks Facebook page: “Today me and a group of youth stuffed and gave out purses and backpacks full of soup and hygiene stuff. We handed out 19 bags total and took two garbage bags full of clothing and shoes as well.” Her entry was chosen at random, winning the Best Seat at the Parade. This includes premium seating with couches and chairs for her family. The promotion is sponsored by Western Village. The living room set will be provided by Restless Artists Theatre.
Scheels is kicking off the day with the Ugly Sweater Run at 10 a.m. Registration is available at Scheels Customer Service. The fee is $20 or new toy donation. One hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit Toys for Tots.
Santa will take up residence in the Sparks Museum’s upstairs Gallery from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and after the parade from 3 to 4 p.m. Santa will visit with children and pose for commemorative photos that cost either one dollar or a canned food donation. Boys & Girls Club members will serve as Santa’s helpers with all money being donated to the Boys & Girls Club.
The Sparks Museum & Cultural Center will be presenting “Lady Jill 40th Anniversary Show.” This collection of Lady Jill represents 40 years of the Nevadan artist’s original art, including transparent watercolors, etchings, pencil drawings and one remaining oil of her collection, spanning 1977 to present. The train display and historic Glendale schoolhouse will be open and free to the public for tours beginning at 10 a.m. until the parade begins.
Radio partners, Cumulus Communications , Lotus Radio, NV 89 and Reno Radio Group will keep the parade moving with announcing/review stands along the route with the “play by play.” The Entravision booth located at 11th and Victorian will have a Spanish translation of the parade review.
The event could not happen without our volunteers. The parade is laid-out and staged by the volunteers of Hot August Nights. Hot August Nights members also provide all the spectacular cars for the dignitaries as well as course marshals along the parade route. Boys and Girls Club provide the volunteers that take photos with Santa. Living Stones Church provides volunteers for the parade announcers, assist with set up and tear down, coordinate the parade off loading and provide hospitality at the parade and the tree lighting ceremony.