All of the lights

All of the lights

Carbondale Lights Fantastic parade will light up downtown Carbondale starting at 6 p.m., on Saturday
Colleen Frease

Winter Wonderland is coming to Carbondale.

The 27th annual Carbondale Lights Fantastic parade will light up downtown Carbondale starting at 6 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 2.

This year’s theme is the Polar Express.

Meghan Cole is the Executive Director for Carbondale Main Street and she said she loves being involved in the parade each year.

“I love that the parade has gone on so long it has become a traditional kick-off to the holiday season here in Southern Illinois,” Cole said. “We have generations of families coming so kids come with their parents and grandparents each year to watch the parade.

The parade is planned throughout the year by the Light’s Fantastic Committee which is made up of volunteers from Carbondale Main Street, Carbondale Park District, Carbondale Tourism and other groups that participate in planning this annual event.

Carbondale Main Street plans a lot of the fun pre-parade activities, which includes the letter writing to Santa in the old train depot, the chili supper at the Carbondale Civic Center, and Santa’s Reindeer with Ms. Claus just to name a few.

Cole said part of the fun of the parade are the parade floats. There are typically 50 to 60 entries per year. Some floats have been in the parade year-after-year, but there are also new entries each time that bring something new to go along with traditional favorites.

“The city of Carbondale really anticipates this event,” Cole said. “They put out lights, and it just encourages people to shop locally and have their holiday parties downtown. It just helps contribute to an overall positive feeling to the holiday season in Carbondale.”

The parade features seven live marching bands, some of which will be lit up while playing their music during the parade. Other floats will also have live music during the parade procession.

“All of Southern Illinois comes out for the Lights Fantastic parade,” Cole said. “We get people coming from all over Southern Illinois, but we also get thousands of people coming from the St. Louis area and other places in Kentucky that are drawn to the parade. It really is an event people look forward to coming to and being a part of.”

Anyone interested in more information about the Carbondale Lights Fantastic Parade can check out the the event’s Facebook page.