Santa’s show must go on

Santa Claus is coming to town for the Art Van Santa Claus Parade
Santa Claus is coming to town, after all. Grand Rapids Magazine file photo.

You’d better watch out if you try to cancel a Santa Parade in Grand Rapids. Thanks to volunteers who stepped up to continue the cherished holiday tradition, Santa Claus IS coming to town Saturday, Nov. 18.

After learning of its potential cancellation last week, the City’s Office of Special Events pulled together event organizers, volunteers and business leaders, people with experience organizing major events such as the Amway River Bank Run, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Grand Rapids Fireworks to work out a plan with the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce to save this year’s parade.

City of Grand Rapids Special Events Manager Evette Pittman said that several people contacted the Special Events office after the announcement and “asked us to do everything possible to keep this great tradition alive. We went to work immediately to do just that. I am very pleased with the collaborative response from our community and staff and am proud that we will celebrate a 102nd Santa Parade here in Grand Rapids on November 18.”

Gentex, learning of this renewed effort, enthusiastically agreed to return as the Santa Clause Parade’s lead sponsor. Likewise, past corporate sponsors – such as Meijer, Experience Grand Rapids, AHC Hospitality and WOOD TV8 – also announced their support of this year’s holiday event.

“Like everyone, we were saddened by the news of the parade’s cancellation,” said Craig Piersma, Gentex vice president of marketing and corporate communications. “But we’re beyond thrilled to be back as the event’s title sponsor, knowing that so many have stepped up to make sure our kids have a great Santa Parade again this year.”

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss thanked all who stepped up in the spirit of unity and community to continue this holiday institution.

“I love welcoming hundreds of families downtown every year to kick off the holidays and welcome Santa back to Grand Rapids,” Bliss said. “I thank the JR Chamber for their years of hosting this event. Its institutional knowledge has been invaluable to help our committee plan this year’s event. I also appreciate those who have stepped forward to save this year’s event and encourage the community to support it with their attendance and participation.”

Save the date!
On Saturday, Nov. 18 at 10 a.m., the parade will start at the corner of Lyon Street and Monroe Avenue NW and travel south down Monroe Ave to Monroe Center, where it takes a left turn and continues up to to Division N. At that point it makes a right and goes to Fulton Street E. and hangs a left to Jefferson Street NE. Parade events will conclude at approximately 11 a.m. in the parking lot of First United Methodist Church where organizers will host a party for kids and families. The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and Family Promise of West Michigan will be on hand to provide fun activities. Santa also will stop by to visit with families.

Anyone looking for additional information for the 2023 event can visit the event’s Facebook page at

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