The City of Sparks Hometowne Christmas parade weekend is scheduled for Friday, starting with the annual tree lighting ceremony and ending with the Christmas Parade the next day.
The tree lighting ceremony will be held on Friday evening, the night before the parade, from 6:30-7 p.m. next to the large gazebo on the corner of Victorian Avenue and Victorian Plaza Circle. The ceremony will include music from the Colin Ross Band. Mayor Ron Smith will flip the switch to light the city’s permanent living Christmas tree, a blue spruce.
As part of the tree lighting, 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 through the Rotarians for $100. Those who wish to purchase tickets can inquire via email@example.com for more information. The proceeds of the raffle go to Kids Free Fishing Day, Sparks Police Explorers, youth rotary programs, and Diedrichsen and Lincoln Park Elementary Schools.
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 Way to 16th Street and begins at 1 p.m. The two major floats, city council and Santa, are sponsored by Baldini’s Sports Casino and Rail City Casino, respectively.
The Grand Marshal is Dr. Marc Johnson, president of our hometown university, the University of Nevada, Reno. He will be riding in a car provided by Tesla Motors with his wife, Dr. Karen Penner-Johnson.
The Sparks Hometowne Christmas has been nominated in USA Today’s 2018 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards. The contest, which is being promoted by USA TODAY, gives voters four weeks to vote for the candidate of their choice at https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-holiday-parade/. People can vote once a day through Monday, Dec. 10. Winners will be announced on Dec. 21.
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 at the plaza, close to the town’s clock.
Elves Invade Sparks Parade Challenge encourages Instagram and Facebook followers to post their pictures of elves invading their homes and holidays. “We’ve had a lot of fun with our elves showing up at meetings, events, even the back of police cars,” mused Francine Burge, Special Events Supervisor. A person will be chosen at random to win the 2019 VIP package — the Best Seat at the Parade. This includes premium seating with couches and chairs for her family. 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 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and after the parade from 2:30 – 3:30 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 of Truckee Meadows.
The event radio partners, Cumulus Communications, Lotus Radio, NV 89 and Reno Radio Group keep the parade moving with announcing/review stands along the route with the “play by play.” The Entravision booth located at 11th Street and Victorian Avenue will have a Spanish translation of the parade review.
The event could not happen without the 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. The Boys and Girls Club provides the volunteers that take photos with Santa. Living Stones Church and Sparks Christian Fellowship provide 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.