Update: The Booneville and Magazine parades have been canceled.


Pandemic or no pandemic, Santa Claus is still coming to town. And towns in the River Valley are making sure their residents will be in the Christmas spirit when he arrives by scheduling many holiday events leading up to the jolly old elf’s arrival.


Here is a roundup of the forthcoming Christmas parades in the area.


Fort Smith’s Christmas parade has been canceled this year.


Greenwood


Greenwood Mayor Doug Kinslow and Greenwood Chamber Director Bob Purvis have announced that the annual Greenwood Christmas Parade, sponsored by Farmers Bank, will be held 7-8:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7 at Greenwood High School.


The parade will include the traditional floats, entries and of course Santa Claus. For 2020, the parade will come with a new twist; the parade will be a "reverse parade." The parade will sit still and the spectators will drive by the floats and other displays. Spectators will enter the school grounds at the Daisy Street entrance and stay in their vehicles as they go past the parade.


Farmers Bank will provide each car with an extended handle butterfly net to hold out the passenger window. The parade participants will place the candy in the nets for the children. Each vehicle will get a sticker on the windshield as they enter the school grounds showing how many children are in the car.


Foot traffic through the parade area will not be allowed.


Watch the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce Facebook page for details as the date gets near.


Paris


The Annual Lighting Ceremony in Paris is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m., to be followed by a Shop Small event the next day in support of the town’s merchants. The Christmas parade will be Nov. 28. Entertainment starts at Eiffel Tower Stage at 5 p.m. with relighting of the courthouse at 5:50 p.m. The route is from downtown Paris from Cloyes to Wilkerson's Auto Sales. The grand prize float pays $300 to winner.


Main Street Paris will also be offering free horse and buggy rides from 4-7 p.m. on Dec. 5, 12 and 19 at Eiffel Tower Park. Participants are asked to wear a mask and practice social distancing while waiting in line.


This year’s Christmas parade with be a drive-thru event beginning at 6 p.m. at Paris High School on East Wood Street.


Toys for Tots will be hosting a toy drive at the parade and those going to the parade can donate to the toy drive if they so choose.


Santa Claus will be in his hut in downtown Paris Dec. 1-23 (except on Wednesdays and Sundays) from 3-7 p.m.


Main Street Paris is also hosting a Ladies Night Out from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3, and a Gentlemen’s Nigh Out on Thursday, Dec. 10.


Booneville


The Christmas parade in Booneville has been canceled. It was set to take place as a "reverse parade" on Dec. 5.


Charleston


The town of Charleston has many events planned, including its Christmas parade on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m. This year’s route has been extended along Freedom Road to help spectators more easily observe social distancing guidelines.


"That’s what the town has decided to do and we’re very excited about it," Heather Tygart said of the decision to have a parade this year. "We are urging everybody to be as cautious as possible and to mask up and practice social distancing."


This year’s parade will stretch to City Hall and candy will be given out along the parade route as in years past.


Tygart, who will take over as executive director of the Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 1, 2021, said most merchants will be participating in a Jingle & Mingle event in which they will be staying open later for customers leading up to the start of the parade.


"We wish we had some more businesses here but the ones we have are really excited about what we’ve got planned and are really getting into it," Tygart said. "The ones we have are fantastic. And we have some wonderful eating opportunities here and some really cute scenes painted on store fronts on Main Street. The businesses are making things look really good and the volunteers who helped put up the lights did a great job, too. Everything is really looking festive."


The Chamber of Commerce is also sponsoring a small business shopping event on Saturday, Nov. 28, with special hours posted by many businesses in an effort to encourage residents to "shop small, shop local."


Main Street merchants are typically closed on Monday nights in Charleston, but that will change in December with the chamber’s Merry Mondays event on Dec. 7, 14 and 21. Participating merchants will be open from 5-8 p.m. on each of those dates.


"We don’t want to take away from the season and the excitement of Christmas just because of this pandemic," said Tygart. "We hope everyone can come and enjoy the things we’ve got planned and have fun."


Lavaca


The annual Christmas parade in Lavaca will be quite different this year as officials deal with concerns over the coronavirus.


Santa Claus will be set up in the parking lot beside EZ-Mart on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to noon. Families can drive through the lot to see Santa Claus and children can drop off letters to the jolly old elf. The letters need to include the child’s name and a phone number where they can be reached because letters will be drawn after the parade and gift cards will be given to those children whose letter is drawn.


The number of gift cards awarded will depend on how many gift cards have been donated by area merchants and individuals prior to the parade.


"We came up with this idea because we wanted to do what we could to make sure everyone can be safe during this pandemic but still get some enjoyment out of seeing Santa Claus," said parade coordinator Shelly Hockaday. "We just don’t have the manpower to have people on the street during a parade making sure everyone is wearing their masks and observing social distancing guidelines."