Ol’ Saint Nick, welcomed late this Saturday by the “Best Christmas Extravaganza Ever,” is sure to set up shop in Somerset from that moment until his magical trip on Christmas Eve.
The grandiose festivities to greet Santa Claus include the annual Christmas parade, “Christmas on the Square” and lighting of the community Christmas tree. No doubt Santa’s sleigh will be loaded with gifts from Somerset’s unparalleled shopping district.
The parade, sponsored by the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, will feature about 70 units, a chamber spokeswoman said. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” a tribute to military men and women serving our country, is the theme of the parade, beginning at 5 p.m.
“Christmas on the Square” and lighting of the community Christmas tree, sponsored by Downtown Somerset Development Corporation, will begin about 7 p.m. at the conclusion of the parade. The community Christmas tree is on the plaza at the Pulaski Court of Justice this year because Fountain Square, normal center for the celebration, is ready to undergo a beautification project and construction is about to begin.
The parade will form at Meece Middle School; move west along East Mt. Vernon Street; turn north on College Street and proceed past Somerset High School; turn west on Oak Street; then south on North Main Street past Fountain Square, and onto Spring Street, ending about 7 p.m. in the Pulaski Court of Justice parking area.
Total route is about 1.4 miles and the parade is expected to last about two hours. The weather may be perfect with temperatures around 60 at parade time and only a slight chance of rain.
The chamber will present awards to the three top floats in the parade during the tree-lighting ceremony.
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler and Pulaski County Judge-executive Barty Bullock will light the community Christmas tree after a Christmas reading by master of ceremonies John Alexander and Christmas carols sung by the Massey Sisters of Science Hill. The Rev. Terry L. Reffett, pastor of First United Methodist Church, will give the invocation.
Somerset Police Lt. William Hunt said parade watchers will be allowed to park in designated parking spaces along the parade route. Also, he said city parking lots and several business parking areas will be empty late on Saturday afternoon and will be available for event parking.
Bobby Clue, executive director of the chamber, expressed thanks to the event planning committee made up of representatives of the chamber of commerce, downtown development agency, Somerset-Pulaski Convention & Visitors Bureau, Pulaski County Public Library, Pulaski Fiscal Court and city of Somerset.