December 1, 2012 11:08:00 PM
'Tis the season -- for recycling and being more environmentally conscious. Participants in this year's Columbus Christmas parade, which will begin Monday at 7 p.m., will decorate their floats with the theme of "A 'Green' Christmas -- Recycle, Reuse and Renew."
The parade will feature the Columbus and New Hope high school bands, as well as dancers and elected officials. An appearance by Santa Claus will finish out the parade, officially kicking off the Christmas season.
Sam Kaye will serve as this year's grand marshal, leading the parade with members of his family in a horse-drawn carriage. Kaye was slated to be last year's grand marshal, but the parade was canceled due to inclement weather.
Kaye is well-known for his service to the community and his work in historic preservation. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has called him "one of Mississippi's finest preservation architects" and credited him as the catalyst for preservation projects which have brought new uses and viability to historic buildings across the state.
Kaye also served as the first director of Columbus Main Street.
Current Columbus Main Street executive director Amber Brislin said she is looking forward to "a fantastic parade" this year.
"We have over 70 groups signed up to participate, and this is way more than we have had in the past, so we can expect a larger than normal parade," Brislin said. "The Christmas parade really kicks off December in Columbus, and it is always so much fun for kids of all ages."
Brislin said the parade will begin at the Hitching Lot Farmers Market area and come up Third Street South, turning left on Main Street. The parade will travel east on Main Street until it turns right on 14th Street. It will then travel west on College Street to Fifth Street South and will continue to the Columbus Soccer Complex.
Brislin said participants should use the Second Street and Second Avenue entrance. Street closings for the parade will begin at 5 p.m.
Columbus Police Department Lt. Carroll Culpepper said the area surrounding the Hitching Lot Farmers Market will shut down around 5 p.m. so participants can begin lining up. Streets along the parade route will be closed at 6:30 p.m. and will remain closed for about an hour after the parade so the public works department can clean the streets.
Both sides of Main Street, between 14th Street and Third Street, will be closed. College Street between 14th and Second Street, Fifth Street between College and Second Avenue North and Second Street South, Third Street South and 14th Street South will also be closed.
The parade marks a milestone for Brislin, who will end her tenure with Columbus Main Street later this month.
"This is my sixth parade to organize and it was actually my first event when I took over as director," Brislin said. "It's one of the fun things that I will miss."