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Chapel Hill-Carrboro Community Holiday Parade will not include motor vehicles


Santa Claus waves to the crowd from his sleigh during the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Community Holiday Parade on Franklin Street on Saturday, Dec. 4, 1993.

DTH File/Justin Williams.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Community Holiday Parade will return to Franklin Street on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 10 a.m. — but this time with no vehicles.

Darien Cropper, the marketing and communications coordinator for Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture, said the decision to remove cars was based on public safety — after a child was killed by a vehicle in last year's Raleigh Christmas Parade— and environmental stewardship.

Cropper said she encourages groups to get creative this year even though there are no vehicles. She said groups are still welcome to use bikes or scooters, and that she is excited to see the creative things that participants come up with. 

The theme of this year's parade is “Walkin' in a winter wonderland,” and applications to participate are due on Sunday, Nov. 19.

Stephanie Cobert, the director of marketing for Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said the decision to not include motor vehicles in the parade did not come lightly.

“This year we're attempting to showcase alternate modes of transportation — so, people walking, biking, rollerblading, scooters, mopeds, all different types of other modes of transportation just in an effort to keep everyone safe, and also for environmental sustainability,” Cobert said. 

She said the parade is a seasonal favorite in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. She said it is an effort to connect communities and give the community something to be excited about. 

Cobert said there are a lot of moving parts and that it takes teamwork to put on the parade. She said everything from street closures and staging areas to safety protocols, parking and pedestrian resources are crucial for the parade. 

“I really want the community to know and to see how hard their town officials work to create these types of fun events,” Cobert said. “It just provides an opportunity for everyone to just come together and create positivity.” 

The Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture special events coordinator Xavier Vallejo said, this year, he is working with many different Town departments to plan a successful parade, including the police department, emergency management services and the fire department. 

He said those involved in planning are prioritizing groups who might have limited mobility given the decision to not include motor vehicles in the parade.

“We're in contact with all those participatory groups that are asking for accommodations to be made, so wheelchairs, golf carts, things like that are going to be allowed in the parade just to make sure that we're accommodating everybody,” Vallejo said. 

He also said the parade has gained a lot of engagement on social media and that the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community is really invested in the event. Cropper said the parade often showcases performances that community members can watch. A lot of musical performances in the parade are local school bands, she said.

“We really encourage diverse organizations to participate from all different faiths and traditions and cultures,” Cropper said. “I think that is what is really special about it and why people get excited to come.”

@DTHCityState |

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