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The Krekeler Jewelers Farmington Christmas Parade returns for another year of holiday magic and music beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday in downtown Farmington.

The parade starts at the junction of Columbia and A Street and then continues down Columbia to Henry Street where it rounds back onto Liberty.

Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Candy Hente believes there's one big reason why the parade continues to bring out a crowd year after year.

"I think it's a great way to start off the Christmas season and people are looking for that warm, hometown feel for their kids, for their families," she said. "Thinking back on last year's Christmas parade, it was almost like a scene from a Christmas movie unfolding.

"I remember standing on the hill in front of Long Memorial Hall looking out over this huge crowd and the high school band with their brass section playing all decorated with Christmas lights and their Santa hats.

"There was Santa and Mrs. Claus pulling through in the lit-up fire truck coming up the sidewalk to unlock Winter Wonderland. Snow started just gently falling about that time. I felt like I was witnessing a Christmas movie. It was magical!"

That may explain why the theme chosen for this year's parade is "Hollywood Holiday."

According to Hente, last year's Christmas parade was the largest in its history, featuring a total of 36 entries.

"The beginning of the parade met the end of the parade before it was over," she said. "That's how big it was."

With thoughts of the 2018 Christmas parade still "dancing in her head," Hente didn't miss a chance to "send a shout out" to Krekeler Jewelers for its annual sponsorship of the parade.

"Their sponsorship helps cover our advertising cost and some of the other expenses associated with the parade. We appreciate so much what they do to help make it a success!"

Hente pointed out that the fun downtown begins Tuesday night before the parade ever gets underway.

"Starting at 5 p.m., we will have hot chocolate, cookies and hot cider stations throughout downtown, as well as kettle corn located around the St. Francois County Courthouse Square around Columbia Street," she said. "Also, Santa's reindeer, 'Prancer,' is making a return appearance before his big night of flying later in the month. He will be flying in to spend some time with folks and take pictures."

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., a Christmas tree lighting ceremony takes place on the Columbia Street side of the courthouse, followed by the Krekeler Jewelers Farmington Christmas Parade at 6 p.m.

After the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus will join the Black Knight Marching Band to officially open Winter Wonderland at Long Memorial Hall, located at 110 W. Columbia St.

Hosted by the city of Farmington Parks & Recreation Department, Winter Wonderland offers children the chance to have their picture taken with Santa. In addition, the colorfully decorated hall features the largest G-Scale rated train display in southeast Missouri.

Winter Wonderland is open weeknights from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 3-20 and is free to the public.

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Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or kjenkins@farmingtonpressonline.com

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