Christmas parade a washout

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, December 13, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

With a blustery mix of rain and freezing cold temperatures, Smithfield cancelled its annual Christmas parade because of the weather, according to organizers.

It will not be rescheduled, but Isle of Wight County Tourism officials are floating the idea of replacing it with a St. Patrick’s Day parade in March.

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The Smithfield Christmas Market, also cancelled last Friday due to weather, has been rescheduled for Friday, Dec. 15, 6-9 p.m. on Main Street.

Isle of Wight County Director of Tourism Judy Winslow said the decision to cancel the market was made early on the day of the Dec. 5 Town Council meeting, so organizers were able to go through the “process” that day. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The process includes an approval for a street closure by the Smithfield Town Council, she said.

“We had to make the call for the Market a few days in advance and not as close to the actual event because we have vendors coming from out of town and state and food vendors would have lost all of their product,” said Winslow in an email, adding that the Council does not meet again until Dec. 18.

Town Manager Peter Stephenson said he was not asked to get with the Town Council about approving another street closure for the parade, but had it occurred, he wouldn’t have anticipated a problem.

Winslow said another reason for not rescheduling the parade was because, with 85 entries, it would have been unlikely that a parade of the same caliber would have occurred the following week.

Add to that the coordination that is required with the Smithfield Police Department, public works and other volunteers, she said.

“Many of these folks are also very, very busy during the holiday season and have many different demands on their time, making it almost impossible to muster the support team that it takes to put something of this magnitude together.  And, last but not least, we are always trying to be sensitive to the needs of the actual businesses on Main Street and making sure that what we are doing is a boon to their economic uplift and not a burden,” Winslow said.

The parade was cancelled late Friday afternoon, the cancellation being posted on various local Facebook pages.  

Winslow said many of the groups set to participate were not surprised but also grateful for not having to march outside in the conditions that ended up on Saturday — rain and temperatures in the 30s with some sleet.

Meanwhile, some of the dance troupes that had created routines for the parade will perform Friday on The Smithfield Times gazebo stage during the Christmas Evening Market.

Parade groups to perform on Times green 

 Those who missed seeing local dancers and majorettes perform at the Christmas parade will have a second chance Friday during the Christmas Evening Market. So far, Southside Ballet Studio, the Footnotes School of Dance and the Isle of Wight Academy majorettes have agreed to perform their parade demonstrations, as well as some holiday routines. As an added bonus, there will be social dances, such as holiday line dances, for the audience to participate in and enjoy. The dancing begins at 6 p.m. on The Smithfield Times gazebo stage on Main Street in downtown Smithfield.  {/mprestriction}