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Santa and Mrs. Claus make an appearance in Jacksonville’s Christmas parade during the 2019 holiday season.

It’s the time of year when local towns close roadways for marching bands, floats and other entries to parade down the main streets spreading Christmas cheer.

Jacksonville, Rusk and Troup have all scheduled their 2020 Christmas parades.

Rusk is hosting the first area Christmas parade, beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1. This year’s theme is, “Lights! Santa! Action!”

Nominations for grand marshal can be made by submitting a 200-word essay stating who is deserving of the title and why, especially noting things the person has done in support or service to Rusk. Essays should be mailed to the Rusk Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 67, Rusk, TX, 75785, or emailed to Josie Fox at info@ruskchamber.com. Nominations must be received by Friday, Nov. 20, to be considered. The winning nominee will not only ride at the head of the parade but will receive the honor of “flipping the switch” to light up downtown Rusk during the Chamber’s inaugural Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28.

Anyone wishing to enter a float, vehicle or walking group in the parade should contact Alyssa Walley at (903) 683-2337.

“All I Want for Christmas” is the theme for Jacksonville’s Chamber-sponsored annual parade, slated to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10. Jacksonville ISD teachers will serve as grand marshals on a float provided by Cardinal Health.

Floats in the parade will be judges for Most Original, Best Themed, Best Lighted and Most Spiritual. No items of any kind, including candy, food items, business cards and flyers, will be allowed as handouts during this year’s parade.

The deadline to submit an entry form is Thursday, Dec. 3. Entry forms and parade rules can be found online at jacksonvilletexas.com/christmas-parade.

For more information on the Jacksonville parade, call (903) 586-2217.

Troup’s Chamber-sponsored parade is also slated to start at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10. The theme is, “Merry Christmas, Y’ALL!”

For safety, parade participants are asked not to throw candy from floats or vehicles. Santa’s elves will distribute candy canes to children along the parade route. Organizers also request participants and spectators social distance where possible and wear a mask where appropriate.

If it becomes necessary to reschedule the parade, the alternate date is Monday, Dec. 14.

Those desiring to participate in the parade can find entry forms on the home page of the city’s website, trouptx.com, or one can be requested by phone at (903) 574-3928, or by email to sloudamy@trouptx.com.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states people should not attend any in-person gatherings if they fall into the following categories:

- been diagnosed with COVID-19,

- have symptoms of COVID-19;

- waiting for COVID-19 viral test results;

- may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days;

- is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Those at increased risk include older adults and people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy or weakened immune systems. The CDC website labels crowded parades as a high risk activity.

Residents should assess the risks and take into account CDC guidelines in order to enjoy holiday celebrations as safely as possible, protecting themselves and others. General guidelines include washing hands often, for at least 20 seconds; covering coughs and sneezes, social distancing where capable, wearing masks, and staying home if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

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