The Parade of Big Balloons Ushers in the Holiday Season

In Springfield, two things kick off the holiday season every year. One of them is Bright Nights, an approximately two mile long light display that takes visitors from one end of Forest Park to the other, with a stop to visit Santa on the way. But before Santa takes up residence, The Cat in the Hat and his friends parade with him right through downtown. This year, the parade will be held on November 25, beginning at 11am.

The Parade of Big Balloons began in 1991. The parade’s first grand marshall was none other than Audrey Geisel, the wife of Dr. Seuss himself. Every year, the Cat in the Hat leads the balloons down Main Street. Other balloons include the Nutcracker, Scooby Doo, an American Flag and two giant ornaments. The big balloons are similar in size to the balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

Interspersed within the balloons are dozens of civic groups and organizations. Among this year’s participants are two local high school marching bands, four dance groups, Miss Western Massachusetts and the guest of honor, Santa Claus.

The Parade of Big Balloons starts at Lyman Street, passes by a viewing stand with commentary at the corner of Bridge Street and Main, and proceeds all the way to the South End, culminating at Locust St. Street vendors line the entire route, offering souvenirs and various snacks to the assembled crowds, which can reach as many as 70,000 every year.

The parade is sponsored by Spirit of Springfield. The local non-profit organization has been sponsoring events in the city since 1989. In addition to the Parade, they also sponsor Bright Nights, Star Spangled Springfield (the annual 4th of July celebration and fireworks), Mayoral Inaugurations and the World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast.

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