Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON — Benton will kick off Christmas with a parade and the Dickens’ Festival on Saturday.
Joshua Hendrickson, president of the Benton Main Street Committee, said this year, the parade has been pushed back one week and combined with the Dickens Festival. Instead of a day parade, the city is prepared to present an illuminated night parade.
The event will begin with the Marshall County Choir singing on the courthouse steps at 4:30 p.m. The parade will begin 45 minutes later, running from Eighth Street to 13th Street.
“This year, the grand marshall of the parade is the Marshall County Arts Commission,” Hendrickson said.
At the conclusion of the parade, Mayor Steve Cary will light the tree and open Dickens’ Alley to parade guests.
Caleb Swift and Josh Tubbs will play an acoustic set and the court square will be alive with carolers. Hendrickson said actors will play characters from Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol.”
“We’ll have everyone from Scrooge to Marley,” Hendrickson said. “Judge (Dennis) Foust will be playing Father Christmas.”
Of men in red suits and with white beards, Hendrickson said Santa Claus will be in attendance at the parade. He will be available at the Marshall County Republican Party headquarters on Court Square beginning at 3:30 for photos. Santa will also ride in a Benton fire engine during the parade and mingle among the crowd in Dickens’ Alley.
Hendrickson said a number of vendors will be on Court Square for the parade with hot cocoa, food and treats. He was unsure how many people will be on hand for the parade and Dickens’ Alley.
“We’re looking at double the attendance of what we’ve seen of Dickens in the past,” Hendrickson said. “We hope everyone likes the changes we’ve made and will support the effort. We want to continue to grow and have a bigger and better event every year.”