GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Art Van Santa Parade celebrated its 100th anniversary Saturday morning in downtown Grand Rapids, with the theme “100 Years of Memories”.
The Santa centennial event was hosted by the Grand Rapids Jaycees, with assistance from Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and the Grand Rapids Junior Chamber.
It kicked off around 9 a.m. along Monroe Avenue, and featured the traditional wide array of local marching bands, carolers, and other performers, along with colorful costumes and holiday floats marking the centennial theme.
Parade organizers describe the annual parade as West Michigan’s “official” holiday kickoff. The Santa Parade first ran in 1919 as the Wurzburg’s Santa Claus Parade on Campau Square in downtown Grand Rapids, according to the parade website. The most famous participant was former President Gerald R. Ford.
Art Van Furniture became title sponsor in 2010.
Among the participants Saturday was the FOX 17 team. The weather was chilly, but the crowd was festive. The dry weather didn’t hurt, although some may’ve wished for snow.
The Art Van Santa Parade is the state’s second largest in Michigan, behind only ‘America’s Thanksgiving Parade’ held annually on Thanksgiving morning. Art Van hosts that parade, as well.