The number of groups taking part in the 2019 Charleston Christmas Parade has nearly doubled from last year’s event, prompting organizers to provide more time and space for participants to line up and apply final touches to their entries before Thursday’s 7 p.m. step-off.
A total of 143 entries will make up this year’s parade, compared with last year’s 77 participating groups, according to Mackenzie Spencer, the city’s information specialist. “We’re really excited about the high turnout,” she said.
The city of Charleston and the Charleston Town Center mall co-host the event.
This year’s bumper crop of entries requires the temporary closure of more than 1 mile of Kanawha Boulevard — from Morris Street, in the city’s East End, to Florida Street, on the West Side — from 2:30 p.m. through the end of the parade, to accommodate final preparation work on floats and other entries. The final lineup begins to take shape on the Boulevard at 5:30 p.m. between Clendenin and Capitol streets.
The parade begins on the Boulevard, turns up Capitol Street, makes a left onto Washington Street East, another left onto Court Street, followed by a right turn onto Quarrier Street, and then a left onto Clendenin Street, to bring the parade to its end back on the Boulevard.
Charleston Town Center officials will judge floats beginning at 6:15 p.m., and present awards during the parade as winners reach a review area near the mall’s Court Street entrance.
For the first time in 11 years, the Charleston Christmas Parade will abandon its more traditional Saturday morning time slot and weave its way through the city’s downtown district on a weekday night. The change to a weeknight was made at the request of downtown business operators and to allow participating school bands to meet weekend commitments elsewhere.