Collective holiday spirit dimmed initially when the Franklin Kiwanis Club had to cancel the long-running Franklin Christmas Parade last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of that cancellation, two local women are spearheading a smaller parade to bring some holiday cheer to downtown Franklin.
Erin Holland, a registered nurse, and Kate Butler, a dance school owner, told Franklin’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday night they wanted to maintain some sense of normalcy for local children in a year marked by challenges.
“We felt like we could still do a parade and do it safely and allow those kids to perform,” Holland said, pointing to the way children are able to showcase their skills each December.
“It’s going to be very kid-focused,” Butler added.
City staff worked with the women to come up with a revamped parade strategy, including capping entries at 35 (the 2019 parade had over 100), making the parade about an hour in length.
The route would begin at Bicentennial Park, head along Hillsboro Road to Five Points, up Main Street and around Town Square, then down Third Avenue north to the park.
Holland has created a GoFundMe to raise money for the off-duty police officers necessary to control traffic.
In the staff’s recommendation to the board, they noted “concerns on holding a parade that could bring thousands of people into downtown Franklin.”
If a permit for the event is approved, the staff is requesting parade organizers and participants to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and Tennessee Pledge recommendations for gatherings.
Other recommendations included asking participants and the public to wear masks, not stopping along the route for performances and not throwing candy into the crowd.
In the application letter, Holland and Butler asked for a stage at Town Square to allow students of Butler’s dance school, Concordia Arts Academy, to perform. It is unclear whether staff supports the stage.
Aldermen were supportive of the event in general. Brandy Blanton, alderman at-large, did caution the women to be aware of the parade’s history through the Kiwanis Club.
“I feel like the Kiwanis did what they felt was responsible,” Blanton said. “I want to be careful that moving forward, they kind of wear the crown.”
“We don’t want to take over this,” Holland said, acknowledging the immense responsibility the Kiwanis Club takes on with the parade each year. “This is a lot.”
The parade is planned for Dec. 5 at noon.
“2020 just basically sucks for everybody,” Holland said. “We just want to give them that parade, just one parade for them this year.”
The item will likely be voted on at the next Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting on Nov. 11.