Downtown inviting people to be a part of first Holiday Drive-Thru Parade

Scenes from a past downtown Dayton children's parade. CONTRIBUTED

Dayton will kick off the holiday season in a two-night event Thanksgiving weekend. And the community can be part of the show.

Earlier this month, Downtown Dayton Partnership announced the beloved Dayton Holiday Festival would look a little different due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

This year’s kickoff event will be divided into two nights, with a virtual tree lighting the Friday night after Thanksgiving and a drive-thru parade in downtown Dayton that Saturday.

The Drive-Thru Children’s Parade in Lights, happening Saturday, Nov. 28 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., will span approximately five blocks of Main Street in downtown Dayton and include 16 illuminated floats that normally run in the holiday parade.

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Due to the drive-thru nature, Downtown Dayton Partnership marketing manager Allison Swanson said organizers are looking for creative stationery floats and displays to fill the entire length of the parade route. The partnership is asking Daytonians to submit pitches for their own lighted displays, performances or creations of interest to include in the parade.

Pitches are due by Oct. 23 to the Downtown Dayton Partnership, though organizers said they could be flexible if applicants need any extra time to brainstorm. Applications with complete guidelines and more details can be found on

“Even right now with Halloween decorations like people are so creative when it comes to decorating their homes,” Swanson said. “Especially this year I think because we’ve been cooped up for months that (they’re) just channeling that energy into being creative and decorating. ... What if we they could do something that (but) on like a trailer or that was just a moveable piece that can be set up within a few hours and taken down.”

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People interested should know that all materials and supplies needed to create their display need to be able to be set up and taken down on the same day.

Santa Claus is always the highlight of the Children’s Parade, the kickoff event each year to the Dayton Holiday Festival at Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton. JIM NOELKER / STAFF

Holiday-themed projects are encouraged, however displays can be any theme that is family-friendly and not offensive, religious or political in nature. The display must also fit within a 50-foot-by-50-foot area.

To submit a pitch, people only need to describe their plan and do not need to construct their display before the application deadline.

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“Also, it doesn’t necessarily even have to be like an inanimate object," Swanson said. “So if there’s a group of neighborhood people from a neighborhood or even a family, if they want to string together a bunch of glow-in-the dark, light-up suits and dance around ... they could be a part of the parade.”

For questions on submitting applications and rules, contact Jami Pack at or call 937-224-1518 ext. 227.

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