Hickory – Celebrate a wonderful season of holiday events in Hickory! Festivities kick off on Friday, Nov. 17, with the City of Hickory’s Lowes Foods Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting and continue throughout December. Lowes Foods has been the sponsor of this festive event since the first year.

A special procession of the Fallen Heroes ministry to honor fallen soldiers from North Carolina will begin at 5:45 p.m., preceding the parade, which will directly follow at 6 p.m.

Retired Hickory Police Chief Thurman Whisnant has been selected as the grand marshal of the parade and will lead the floats, vehicles, and participants through downtown. Whisnant retired from public service earlier this year on Jan. 31, after 30 years in law enforcement with Hickory Police Department.

Parade entries will be announced as they pass by the parking deck on First Avenue NW. A committee of community leaders and volunteers will serve as judges of the parade and give awards for Most Creative, Most Christmas Spirit, Best Well-Crafted Theme, and Best Overall.

At the conclusion of the parade, Santa’s float will stop at Union Square so he can light the Christmas tree in downtown Hickory. Holiday music will be performed by Hickory Music Factory until 8:30 p.m.

Although Santa will be departing for the North Pole after the tree lighting, a winter wonderland snow globe will be on Union Square for attendees to enter and take photographs.

The Newton Depot Christmas Layout, sponsored by the Newton Depot Authority, will display two beautiful 8-foot by 6-foot trains and a moving trolley on The Sails on the Square Stage for all to see.

Visitors can also stop by the Hickory Downtown Development Association’s table to write a letter to Santa and mail it to the North Pole.

Many downtown businesses will remain open throughout the event and offer specials, making the evening a great time for patrons to begin their holiday shopping.

The parade will follow the following route:

Parade starts at the intersection of Fourth Street NW and First Avenue NW

Continues on First Avenue NW towards City Hall

Turns right on North Center Street

Turns right on Main Avenue NW

Continues through Union Square and exits on Main Avenue NW (Santa will be dropped off at Union Square before exiting downtown)

A special Holidaypalooza event will be presented by the City of Hickory and the Hickory Downtown Development Association (HDDA), in partnership with Metronet, on Saturday, Nov. 18, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Union Square in downtown Hickory.

The merry event will offer visits with Santa Claus and The Studio Snow Queens from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Santa will then host a holiday story time with help from his friends at Hickory Public Library at 1 p.m.

Throughout the Holidaypalooza event downtown, kids will be able to write letters to Santa at the HDDA table and participate in fun, holiday activities provided by Hickory Public Library staff under The Sails on the Square.

For more information about the City of Hickory’s Lowes Foods Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting, please visit www.hickorync.gov/christmasparade.