Kick off the holiday season with local Santa parades that offer plenty of Christmas cheer for all ages this weekend.
The Scranton Santa Parade returns Saturday, Nov. 23, to trace its usual route through the city’s downtown starting at 9:15 a.m. This year’s lineup will include hundreds of participants, including dancers, marching bands, choral groups, twirlers, Christmas music, community groups, floats, candy giveaways and big balloons.
“This year, our huge parade balloons will roll through the parade instead of flying,” said Thomas A. Fritz of Santa Parade Inc. “With the helium shortage, our committee felt that this was the year to change over to a sustainable style, while still having the humongous balloons that we all know and love. This will bring the balloons right up close to all our spectators.”
Rock 107’s morning host, Prospector, will serve as grand marshal. The ranting DJ (an employee of Times-Shamrock Communications, which owns The Times-Tribune) has been part of the parade since its first year in 1993, when he was on the original planning committee. And though he has remained an integral presence on the parade route over the last 27 years, he was nonetheless astonished to receive the honorary role.
“I had no idea. It was a complete shock,” Prospector said. “I do like the Santa Parade. It’s fun to see all the kids and the generations together. It’s one of the few things that doesn’t make me angry.”
Prospector will get to ride up front this year as the parade steps off from Franklin Avenue and Spruce Street. After the parade, Santa Claus will be at Lackawanna County Courthouse Square for pictures, and guests will see Prospector there, too, he said, as he relishes in his title for the day.
“It’s special because I do have a long history with the parade, but also, who doesn’t love Christmas?” Prospector said. “I grew up in Scranton, and I love Northeast PA.
“It’s almost like they’re hugging me, all of Northeast PA,” he added with laugh.
Kids can write a message to Santa, which Times-Tribune elves will collect during the parade. Make sure to include your full name and address to ensure a return letter. If you can’t attend the parade, you can submit letters through Friday, Dec. 6, to The Times-Tribune North Pole Connection, 149 Penn Ave., Scranton, PA 18503.
Meanwhile, in Wilkes-Barre, the city’s annual Christmas Parade and Tree-Lighting Ceremony is set for Saturday, Nov. 23. The parade steps off at 3 p.m. from South Main and South streets then travels north along Main Street, goes around Public Square and ends at North Main Street. As in years past, participants will include local schools, businesses and nonprofit groups. Motorists are advised that South Main Street from Public Square to Sullivan Street will be closed from 1:30 to 5 p.m.
The day’s activities start in the morning at 11:30 with Frosty the Snowman-themed activities including a snowman ornament craft, story time and photo opps at Barnes & Noble Wilkes-King’s, 7 S. Main St. At 2 p.m., there will be a Christmas Carol Sing-A-Long with Ms. Ruthy Stock on Public Square, followed by the parade at 3.
The tree-lighting ceremony takes place immediately following the parade on Public Square and will feature live entertainment by Wilkes-Barre Mohegan Sun A Capella Choir plus free hot chocolate from the Salvation Army and the Wilkes-Barre Lions Club.
No matter which end of the valley you find yourself on Saturday, the holiday spirit will be all around.
If you go
- What: Scranton Santa Parade
- When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 9:15 a.m.
- Where: Parade moves throughout downtown Scranton, beginning at Franklin Avenue and Spruce Street, heading up Spruce, turning left onto North Washington Avenue, turning right onto Linden to go around Lackawanna County Courthouse Square and ending at Adams Avenue and Spruce Street.
- Details: Lackawanna Avenue from Cliff Street to Penn Avenue, Mifflin and Franklin avenues from Lackawanna Avenue to Linden Street, and Spruce Street between Mifflin and Franklin avenues will close to traffic for parade lineup that morning. Admission to the all-ages event is free. For more information, visit santaparade.net.
- What: Wilkes-Barre Christmas Parade and Tree-Lighting Ceremony
- When: Saturday, Nov. 23; activities begin, 11:30 a.m.; parade steps off, 3 p.m.
- Where: Parade steps off from South Main and South streets, travels north along Main Street, goes around Public Square and ends at North Main Street; tree-lighting ceremony, Wilkes-Barre Public Square
- Details: Admission to the all-ages event is free. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.
Patrice Wilding is a 13-year employee of the Lifestyles Dept. at The Times-Tribune, where she worked her way up from a clerk to a web video producer to a full-time reporter, writer and copy editor. An Olyphant native, she graduated from Mid Valley Secondary Center and earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with concentration in media arts, political science and communications from Wesley College, Dover, Delaware. She lives in Clarks Summit with her husband, Justin, and their son, Johnny. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5369; @pwildingTT