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Christmas parade shifts to afternoon

If you love a parade, New Richmond is the place to be on Saturday.

The second annual New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade is slated for 2 p.m. Dec. 6.

The route will follow Green Avenue from Mary Park to the Middle School.

According to Chamber Executive Director Russ Korpela, between 20 and 25 units are expected for the holiday event. Last year's units totaled 15.

"It's a great increase," Korpela said. "And we expect some good growth in spectators this year too, as people hear about the parade and stop by to watch."

Parade units will include visiting royalty, business floats and color guards, Korpela said.

Last year's Christmas parade was held in the early evening, with units required to be lighted.

But Korpela said the downtown retail businesses thought an earlier start to the parade would allow spectators time to do some Christmas shopping before and after the parade.

"We're going to try it this year and get more feedback from people on how it goes," Korpela said. "We hope the community enjoys it. An afternoon parade gives us a chance for slightly warmer temperatures."

Korpela said the parade should last between 30 and 45 minutes -- the perfect length for an outdoor activity in December.

"It will look like a mini Fun Fest parade," Korpela predicted, "with a Christmas theme."

The parade will conclude with the arrival of Santa on top of a New Richmond fire truck.

Following the parade, kids and parents are invited to stop by the Chamber office downtown for pictures with Santa.

Area businesses will also be conducting special sales and be serving cookies and hot chocolate.

"The primary reason for the parade is so that people can check out our local retailers for their Christmas shopping," Korpela said. "This gives people an opportunity to do that."

If bad weather rolls in on Saturday, Korpela said the Chamber could decide to postpone the event. Spectators and parade participants can call the Chamber at 246-2900 for updated information on the parade if weather turns ugly.

If the parade is postponed, the event will be held the following Saturday, Dec. 13, at 2 p.m. instead. Further bad weather would cause the parade to be canceled for 2008, Korpela said.

Businesses, organizations or individuals who would like to enter a unit into the parade can still do so. Contact Korpela at 246-2900 for more information.