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BY BRIDGET BALCH
If you were one of the 50 million people who tuned in to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade last week, you'll be excited hear that these coming weekends will provide several opportunities to stand street-side and watch the parades in person.
Although you won't get to see the giant Kermit the Frog balloon, local Christmas parades have a lot to offer, minus the six-hour drive and overwhelming crowds.
With "Christmas in Hawaii," a horseback-riding Olympian and Santa riding in on a firetruck, these parades hold their own when it comes to getting the Christmas festivities started.
ENJOY A FAIRY TALE IN FREDERICKSBURG
About 100 local groups and organizations unleash their creativity and parade the streets of downtown Fredericksburg for this annual Christmas celebration.
The theme of this year's Jaycees parade is "Once Upon A Christmas," so floats and performers will treat the audience to storybook and fairy tale-inspired displays.
The two-hour parade starts at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the corner of Caroline and Charlotte streets, goes up Amelia Street and down Princess Anne Street, and ends at the Fredericksburg Courthouse.
Get there early to get a good spot on Princess Anne, and let the little ones up front so they can see.
"We always get a huge response from the community," said Jennifer Adkins, Christmas parade co-chairwoman.
Adkins also stressed that Jaycees encourage everyone to "stay in the Christmas spirit" and "be nice to one another."
In addition to providing Christmas festivities for families, the Jaycees will use this opportunity to give to needy children in the area.
Working with the Boys and Girls Club and Micah Ecumenical Ministries, Jaycees will use proceeds from parade participants' entry fees to fund a shopping trip to Kohl's and a day at Funland for about 20 local homeless children.
HANG 10 IN SPOTSYLVANIA
Take a mini-"staycation" and bask in the island sun at this year's Spotsylvania Christmas Parade, themed "Christmas in Hawaii."
The 35th annual parade, which starts at Spotsylvania Middle School and goes to the Spotsylvania Courthouse Village, will have decorated floats, horses, carriages, motorized vehicles, performers on foot and Santa Claus, escorted by the Spotsylvania Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad.
"It's a really good, fun event," said Kathy Smith, public information officer for Spotsylvania County.
The parade will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1, beginning at 1 p.m.spotsylvania.va.us
PACK YOUR BAGS FOR HOLIDAYS IN ORANGE
Inspired by the Olympics this summer, Orange County will take a trip to experience "Christmas Around the World" as the parade's theme this year.
On Sunday, Dec. 2, at 4 p.m., the Orange County Holiday Parade will march down Main Street and end at the firehouse.
Among the participants in the parade are Will Coleman, a local equestrian who took part in the Olympics in London; Rosemary Willis, Miss Virginia 2012; and Stephanie Copeland, Miss Wheelchair Virginia 2012.
The Memorial Christmas Tree Lighting in Taylor Park will be held after the parade, at 5:30 p.m.
This holiday tradition honors those who have died since last Christmas by representing each person with a light on the tree.
The tree lighting is accompanied by speeches and songs from the Orange County High School choir.visitorangevirginia.com
'A CANDY CHRISTMAS'
Visions of sugarplums will be dancing--and not just in children's heads--at Bowling Green's Christmas parade this year.
More than 50 groups, businesses, nonprofit organizations and bands will sweeten downtown Bowling Green as they take part in "A Candy Christmas."
The parade route follows Main Street from Broaddus Street to Chase Street, starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.
In addition to awards for the best participants in the parade itself, there will be a contest for best window decorations among the businesses in downtown Bowling Green.townofbowlinggreen.com
Bridget Balch: 540/374-5444
FIRST PRESIDENT COMES
The Christmas season will come to Little Washington in a big way on Sunday.
Both Santa Claus and George Washington, who surveyed the Rappahannock County town in 1751, will be honorary guests at the Little Washington Festival and Holiday Parade.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. with a hanging of the greens service at the Washington Baptist Church. At the same time, artisans' markets will open both at the town hall and at the community theater. The markets will continue until 4 p.m.
The Baptist church will also be the scene of a Christmas stamp display from 12:30 to 7 p.m.
George Washington will be the grand marshal of the Christmas parade, which begins at 1 p.m. along Main and Gay streets.
The first president will be joined by other historic figures during a living history Valley Forge re-creation at 2 p.m.
There will be a bonfire and Christmas music at the town square, where Santa will make an appearance at 2 p.m. A magic show will be held at 2:30 at the Theatre at Little Washington.
The celebration will take place regardless of the weather, according to event planners.
For more information call 540/675-3153 or visit town.washington.va.us or vis
Candlelight, caroling and the courthouse bell will ring in the Christmas season at Spotsylvania Courthouse.
"It's very beautiful," said Kathy Smith, public information officer for Spotsylvania County.
At sunset, approximately 4:45 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, on the Courthouse Lawn, the gentle glow of luminarias will set the mood for the musical presentations of the Chancellor High School Vocal Ensemble, the Christ Episcopal Church Choir, the Sylvannah Baptist Church Choir and the Zion United Methodist Church Choir, as they lead the audience in Christmas caroling.
Lake Anna is gearing up for its second annual Lake Is Great Christmas Tree Lighting this Saturday, Dec. 1. The event will take place from 5:30-8:30 p.m. beside the Lake Is Great Store, 2991 New Bridge Road. Santa is expected to make his grand entrance at 6 p.m. and pose for children and hear what's on their wish list. There will also be kids activity stations, including ornament decorating and preparing pouches of reindeer food that can be sprinkled outdoors on Christmas Eve. Plus enjoy all your favorite holiday treats for sale, craft vendors and performances by local groups.