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story.lead_photo.caption Matthew Sellers decorates a light pole with Christmas lights Friday on Texas Boulevard. The city's Parks and Recreation Department was finishing up downtown holiday decorations.(Staff photo by Kayleigh Moreland)

Document: 2017 Main Street Texarkana Christmas Parade Route

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More than 100 floats—including a new ride for Santa Claus—will illuminate downtown during Texarkana's annual Christmas parade tonight.

Lights on every float, a "beautiful vintage" emerald green sleigh for Santa and camels ridden by local celebrities are among the highlights, said Ina McDowell, executive director of parade sponsor Main Street Texarkana.

Starting at 7 p.m. at Hazel and East Broad streets, the parade will move west on Broad, turn right onto Texas Boulevard, then right onto West Third Street and left onto

North State Line Avenue and end at the downtown courthouse.

Provided by Texas Camel Corps, the camels have been popular additions to the parade in recent years. This year's scheduled riders are Leadership Texarkana

Executive Director Ruth Ellen Whitt, Texarkana Museums System Board President Velvet Cool and local radio personality Lisa Lindsey.

This year's announcers are broadcaster Fabienne Thrash and Brian Goesl, executive director of the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council.

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Before the parade begins, the winner of the Downtown Neighborhood Association's Window Wonderland contest will be announced. Local designers have decorated storefront windows along Broad Street, and the display judged best will win a $1,000 prize.

The parade will return to its traditional route down East Broad Street after a year taking the new official Texarkana, Ark., parade route that uses Front Street instead.

Main Street requested the change to take advantage of window displays, lights and other decorations on Broad. Arkansas-side police approved on the condition that no vehicles will be parked along Broad during the parade in order to widen the street as a safety precaution.

Main Street volunteers will work with Broad Street businesses and the city Public Works Department to clear the street of vehicles by noon today.

McDowell said she is monitoring weather forecasts and in the event of rain will decide today whether to postpone the parade. In 2016, the parade was delayed a day because of rainy weather.

The Gazette will announce any changes in parade plans as soon as possible at texarkanagazette.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Holiday festival and market also slated

Two outdoor markets will offer holiday wares and family-friendly fun in conjunction with Texarkana's annual Christmas parade tonight.

A Christmas Festival at Front Street Festival Plaza and a Christmas Market at the Texas-side Farmers' Market will feature artisan crafts and food products from local vendors, as well as live music, games and more.

On the Arkansas side, the Christmas Festival will be open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. featuring a live nativity scene with the camels, other animals and performers that will also be in the parade. BrightStar Theaters will provide live music, and attractions such as a bungee jump will be available for entertainment. The festival is sponsored by the Texarkana Arkansas Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association.

From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the Texas side, the fourth annual Christmas Market will offer gifts, food from vendors such as Be the Blessing Bakery, trees from the Texarkana

Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm and more.

For more information about the Christmas Festival, visit tacpaaa.weebly.com. For more information about the Christmas Market, contact Holden Fleming at [email protected] or 903-798-3901.

Front Street Festival Plaza is at 400 E. Front St. The Texarkana, Texas, Farmers' Market is at 305 Texas Blvd.

The parade begins at 7 p.m. at Hazel and East Broad streets downtown.

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