JEFFERSON — It keeps on getting darker earlier, but Saturday night will be bright as Jefferson hosts its 23rd annual Holiday Parade of Lights.
Sponsored by the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, the parade will start at 5:30 p.m. in downtown Jefferson.
Following tradition, the parade will take off from the intersection of Walworth and Main streets and head north through the downtown area, turning east on Racine Street and finally heading south on Center Street to disband.
“This parade is always a family favorite,” said Jen Pinnow, executive director of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. “It really puts a person in the holiday spirit with the Christmas music, lights and smiling faces.”
The chamber director said she would love to see everyone turn out for the holiday parade, saying, “You won’t be disappointed.”
Pinnow said the Parade Committee has been working hard to coordinate parade entries. As of last week, around 35 entries had been signed up to participate.
The parade will be led by a Jefferson Police Department squad car. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office honor guard will follow with flags on display.
Jefferson Chamber of Commerce President Kim Kysely and 2019 Jefferson Citizen of the Year Dale Lutz will be accompanied by “elf” volunteers from the Jefferson High School Latino Club.
Next will come the Lettsew K-9 Foundation Inc., followed by entries from PremierBank and the Sons of the American Legion Blackhawk Colorguard.
The Gemuetlichkeit Days castle float, celebrating the community’s German heritage, will feature 2019 Gemuetlichkeit King Jeff and and Queen Tiffany Schmidt and their family, as well as numerous representatives from the Gemuetlichkeit organization, which puts on the annual spring May Ball and the three-day Gemuetlichkeit Days German heritage fest in the fall.
Jefferson County Head Start will come next, followed by the entry from Rainbow Hospice Care, centered in Jefferson.
The Jefferson High School Band will perform from atop a flatbed truck provided by Aumann’s Service Inc. of Jefferson.
The School District of Jefferson will spread goodwill with its parade entry, followed by the Jefferson High School Art Club with its float, taking off on the “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme.
Jefferson High School’s Tomorrow’s Hope Club will follow, promoting its coming Hoops for Hope fundraiser, which benefits the health-care nonprofit.
Wedl’s Hamburger Stand, a community landmark for many decades, will have the next entry, followed by Jefferson Utilities.
Jones Market and Jones Dairy Farm is next in the lineup, followed by the parade entry from Fort Community Credit Union.
The Jefferson Golf Course will follow, with an entry from the Rock River Free Clinic close on its heels.
Next comes the float created by the County-City Credit Union of Jefferson, followed by dogs and people representing the area organization Husky Huddle/Malamute Mingle.
Century 21 Integrity Group will come next, followed by the float from St. John’s Lutheran Church and School of Jefferson.
Wine and Roses will bring its “pedal/petal bar” to the parade, and that entry will be followed by horses and students representing the state-qualifying Jefferson equestrian team.
RE/MAX Shine is next, with the Rock River Clovers 4-H Club close behind.
Fort HealthCare will be represented in the parade by members of its Pediatrics Department.
The Bambi Club 2/American Legion Post 164, a multiple-repeat float winner, will be appearing again in Saturday’s parade, with its entry themed “Tribute to Veterans’ Christmas.”
Dousman Transport, the school bus company that serves the Jefferson schools and other area districts, will be represented, followed by the entry from the City of Jefferson.
Next up will be a number of all-terrain vehicles representing the Jefferson Half-Mile ATV Club.
The Jefferson Emergency Medical Service and its ambulances are listed as the penultimate parade entry, and bringing up the rear will be the Jefferson Fire Department, with Santa and Mrs. Claus waving at parade-goers from atop the department’s ladder truck.
Sponsoring the parade are Alden Estates of Jefferson, PremierBank, Sunset Ridge Assisted Living, SERVPRO of Jefferson County/Oconomowoc, RE/MAX Shine, the Jefferson Golf Course, Wedl’s Hamburger Stand, Lutz Heating and Cooling, The Drug Store, County-City Credit Union and the Jefferson Lions Club.
After the parade, the chamber is inviting children and their families to visit Santa Claus in the chamber building, located at 230 S. Main St., where free cookies will be given out and there will be coloring activities for youngsters.
The Santa meet-up will run through 8 p.m.
Families and other community members also may enjoy a stroll through the Winter Night River Lights display at Rotary Waterfront Park located behind Jefferson City Hall, just a block from Main Street.
The display was done by the Jefferson Live Music Foundation, said Rotary representative Ellen Waldmer.
In addition to Saturday’s parade and post-parade festivities throughout Jefferson, the community will host a number of family-friendly Christmas activities this month.
On the same day as the parade, St. Coletta of Wisconsin will hold its Holiday Open House, which will run from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, and PremierBank will host its “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” event from 9:30 to 11 a.m. that day.
Sunday, Dec. 8, marks the Jefferson Lions Club’s annual “Breakfast with Santa,” which will take place from 8 a.m. to noon at the Jefferson VFW/Recreation Center. Santa’s appearance is being sponsored by the nonprofit Lions service club.
There is a charge for the Lions meal, which costs $6 for adults and $4 for children.
Another “Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus” in a more formal restaurant setting will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at “Neighbors’ at 13 East.” Reservations are required for this restaurant-sponsored event. There is a charge of $14 for diners age 11 and up or $10 for children 10 and under.
In addition, throughout the holiday season, Jefferson businesses will be participating in a window-decorating contest sponsored by the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce.
To vote, people should take a selfie in front of their favorite window and tag the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. All who vote will be entered to win $50 in chamber bucks, sponsored by Thrivent Financial/Michael Stade.
The contest runs through Dec. 15 and winners will be announced Dec. 17.