Record crowds estimated at between 8,000 and 10,000 lined the streets for Saturday’s Kiwanis Club of Columbia Christmas Parade followed by a light show and fireworks.
The parade featured a little bit of everything, from marching bands to the Honey Island Clydesdales and dozens of floats from local schools, churches and businesses.
Columbia’s event did not go unnoticed by state and national politicians. U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker shared photos on his Facebook page and said the pictures were “beautiful scenes.” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves also shared photos taken in Columbia on social media.
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas all across Mississippi, with towns decorating for the season,” he said. “In Columbia, my friends Kristian and Yolanda Agoglia with Looks Great Services made downtown look beautiful.”
Looks Great crews spent weeks stringing lights throughout downtown for what was dubbed “Experience a Columbia Christmas.” Main Street remained closed after the parade, and thousands of people shared the excitement of the season with decorative lights and family activities.
“This year’s Christmas Parade was a success far beyond anything we ever could have imagined,” Kiwanis Club President Jeni Southerland said. “We had over 100 entries, and it was the largest parade we have ever seen in Columbia. The money raised from the entry fees will help provide Christmas to many families in need throughout the county and we couldn’t have done it without the support of our community.”
Mayor Justin McKenzie shared in the excitement.
“It was a wonderful night,” he said. “It was amazing to see so many people downtown. We were thrilled to have some many people come and visit our community.”
McKenzie said he enjoyed the lighting of the Christmas tree and the fireworks over the Marion County Courthouse.
“It was a chance to show people why Columbia is a great place to live or have a business,” he said. “So many people came together and put so much effort into the events on Saturday. It was so much work for those building things or wiring. It was also a huge success for our merchants and our businesses. It was an opportunity for us to show what can happen with people working together. We had groups like the Columbia Gearheads, Kiwanis Club and the people who volunteered for Experience a Columbia Christmas.”
Main Street Columbia Director Nik Ingram agreed.
“This is the most epic event that Columbia and Marion County has seen in a long time … if ever,” he said. “We had record-breaking crowds and brought a lot of awareness to our community. The good news is that we’re just getting started. That talent that came together is remarkable. We have such giving people with unique spirit. The building and vision is unprecedented.”
Ingram said the night’s impact goes far beyond a single day or event.
“I believe the landscape and attitude of downtown Columbia is changed forever,” Ingram said. “This has positioned us in a place where people across the state, at Stennis Space Center and elsewhere, are talking about this. We’ve had people comment on social media from as far away as Canada. It’s a tribute to so many people who worked so hard to make it happen, so many people with such great talent.”
The day started with dozens of classic cars lining Main Street for the monthly Columbia Gearheads Cruise-In, and several of the vehicles on display then joined the parade.
Pictured Above: A massive crowd gathers on Main Street Saturday night before the lighting of the tree and courthouse following the Kiwanis Club of Columbia Christmas Parade. | Photo by Brandi Perry