Fredericksburg Families

Amy Umble writes about family issues and kid-friendly events.

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Christmas Parade Ps and Qs

Yes, this post – written by EMILY FREEHLNG – is from 2011, but will likely remain relevant for years to come :-)

RELATED: Your Complete Guide to Fredericksburg-area holiday happenings

A holiday tradition for many in this area is the Fredericksburg Jaycees Christmas Parade. The annual parade begins in downtown Fredericksburg this Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

You can read more about the parade here.

This parade is the product of many hours of work by volunteers, school and church groups and others in the community. It typically draws a large crowd downtown. It’s intended to get people excited about the holiday season, but as with anything that includes large crowds, it can invoke grumpiness.

If you’re planning to take your kids downtown for the parade, here are some tips, culled with the help of’s Facebook following, for making it a positive experience for your family and for those around you.

1. Plan for parking. Police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe reminds us all that owners of private lots downtown will have unauthorized vehicles towed. Nothing like a missing car to turn a good parade experience bad. The city directs parade-goers to the municipal lots and the parking garage downtown. Some private lot owners, including The Free Lance-Star, will allow folks to park if they bring a canned good or similar charitable donation, but make a plan for which lot to target before you go.

2. Make room for others. If you arrive hours ahead of time to claim a spot, you’re likely to bring a folding chair or blanket to sit on while you wait it out. But once the crowds arrive, think about how much space you really need to enjoy the parade. Also remember that those in strollers and wheelchairs need access to the ramps at intersections.Police don’t regulate spot-saving, but they will ask people who are blocking alleyways and the general flow of the crowd to move. As one Facebook commenter said:

I think it’s silly that people get so territorial and spread huge blankets out on the sidewalk and then plop three people on them. It’s a parade–unless you’re handicapped, stand up and watch it! Little ones (and I mean LITTLE) should be able to sit in strollers on the curb.

3. If you must smoke, don’t do it in a packed crowd. From Facebook fan Gleibys Gonzalez Buchanan:

I know you are outside, but it smells like you are in an enclosed space when the smoke is in your face and there is no where to go to get away from it. Plus, it’s not a good image for children. And on behalf of us that live downtown, please use the trash receptacles for your trash, not the streets and sidewalks (and certainly not people’s front yards or stoops!)! Have fun y’all!

4. Little ones in front. Even if you don’t think it’s fair that you’ve been sitting there since 2 p.m. with your own kids and the little one behind you just walked up, try to give them access to a curbside view if possible. At the same time, if you arrive late to the parade with a large group of children, be considerate before you try to make everyone else move to get your own kids to the front of the crowd (Some of the adults on the curb might be watching for their own kids in the parade, after all.). There were a lot of complaints about both of these issues. Just use some common sense and manners out there.

5. Hold onto your kids and dogs. Police say one gets lost or loose every year. Don’t let it be yours.

6. This might sound obvious, but no fireworks. Police say someone set off fireworks on the parade route a couple of years ago and spooked the horses. That’s not festive.

7. Prepare to sit tight. Once the parade passes your viewing spot, remember that other people farther along the route are still waiting for it. If you want to try to get away, just try not to interfere with their parade experience by crowding or walking in front of them.

8. And finally, if someone in the crowd does something that makes you angry, try to keep in mind these wise words from Facebook fan Kelly Breslin-Valko:

I think the one thing we all need to remember during black Friday and these crazy holiday parades is are we giving our children the best memories we possibly can. Even if they don’t see everything, do my kids need to see me get confrontational at a holiday event, NO! Kids usually just cherish the time we spend with them and the memories we create.

Be nice, not naughty. Santa is watching…

PARKING WARNING / REMINDER: Please do not park in private lots downtown. Illegally parked vehicles will be towed.

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  • Lee Shiflett

    Don’t plan to be at the parade but have to say:  so much for VRE’s community spirit.  Its not likely any “commuters” would be inconvenienced at 5:30 pm on a Saturday evening so why prohibit public parking in the Sophia Street (Lot B) parking lot?

  • Jennifer Adkins

    Because we use that lot for staging Division 6. Thank you to the VRE for allowing us to use that lot to help us put on this fantastic holiday tradition. All other VRE lots are available for parking. 

  • Jennifer Adkins

    We also use the small gravel lot next to Riverfront Park to stage part of Division 2, please do not park there either as we will tow cars from that lot as well. There will be barricades and signs up at both places.