Peoria, the eighth-largest city in Illinois, is home to the longest running Santa Claus Parade in America. And not only is the parade a staple of Thanksgiving weekend in the River City, the event continues to thrive as the 136th edition arrives later this year. Last year’s event, held on the Friday after Thanksgiving, included 80 floats.
The parade features costumed characters, novelty walking units, decorated floats, marching bands, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Thousands of adults, teenagers and children alike are in attendance. The parade is held through the streets of downtown and is broadcast live on local television. There is no cost to attend the parade.
The parade’s primary goal is to provide entertainment and welcome in the holiday season, but there is also competition. Themes change every year, and awards are handed out in categories based on different types of floats. Organizers estimate between 5,000 and 8,000 people are in attendance each year. The floats come from a variety of groups, including not-for-profits, novelty, religious, and commercial. Local high school marching bands are also prevalent.
In 2022, awards were presented in the following categories: Best Novelty Unit, Best Overall Unit, Best New Entry, Best Commercial Float Entry, Best Non-Profit Float Entry, and Best Religious Float Entry.
This year’s parade will take place on Friday, November 24, at 9:15 a.m. The theme is ‘Musical Notes and Holiday Floats.’ Interested participants are welcome to sign up, and float sponsorships are available. Peoria, IL Santa Claus Parade | Facebook Santa Claus Parade – Peoria Area Community Events (peoriaevents.com)
Santa Claus parades are held in a variety of places, and each one is unique in its own way. The Peoria parade has been held every Christmas season since 1888, which is remarkable.
“The people of Peoria are proud of their traditions, and the Santa Claus Parade represents a tremendous display of civic pride each holiday season,” stated Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria). “Every year, the city comes together to gather and celebrate this incredible parade. It’s amazing to see the dedication and creativity come to life.”