Asheville Holiday parade seeks more applicants for "old-time" event

The Asheville Holiday Parade will feature a distinct and old-timey theme this year.

"We're going to have lots and lots of horses," says parade Director Sandie Rhodes, who quickly adds, "and a lot of poop picker-uppers."

From 20 members of the Asheville High School 4-H club in full costume commanding their steeds to a Clydesdale team owned by Express Employment Professionals and a Wells Fargo stagecoach team, the Nov. 21 parade will be packed with horses and riders, Rhodes says. The Biltmore Estate, the parade sponsor, will provide a horse-drawn wagon carrying musicians and grand marshals David Holt and Laura Boosinger, and a contingent from Maggie Valley theme park Ghost Town in the Sky, will also express the parade's "Our Appalachian Holidays" theme, according to Rhodes.

There's more to the parade than just the horses, of course. There will be plenty of marching bands, dancers and floats sponsored by area churches and businesses. Parade-goers can also participate by bringing donations for local charities. The list of items to be collected will be posted on the parade's Web site, Rhodes says.

"We want to make each entry as entertaining and fun as possible and just get back to what a parade is supposed to be," Rhodes says.

A week of holiday-related activities will lead up to the parade. The Asheville Downtown Association's holiday windows competition, which drew 40 competing establishments last year, will be judged on Nov. 18. A walking tour will be included in the parade program, according to Rhodes. The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association will hold a "Taste of Asheville" gathering at The Venue on Nov. 19. On Nov. 20, the Asheville Lyric Opera plans to perform its first Christmas concert. And Pianist George Winston will be in concert at the Diana Wortham Theatre the night of Nov. 21.

This is the second year that the Asheville Downtown Association has organized the parade, an Asheville tradition for more than 60 years. It's co-sponsored by the city of Asheville and the Asheville Merchant's Corporation. Applications for anyone interested in participating are due Oct. 2 and are available online at www.ashevilleparade.org. For more information, contact Rhodes at sandie@ashevilleparade.org or call 628-2403 or 251-9973.

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