UPDATE: Grand Rapids Santa Parade 2020 Has Been Called Off, Not Even the Reverse Parade is Happening

Grand Rapids Santa Parade 2020

We Thought the Grand Rapids Santa Parade 2020 Would Be a Reverse Parade

When we reported last month that the Santa Parade was a go, it was with the understanding that the 101st Santa Parade would be a reverse parade, where the vehicled drive past stationary floats and displays.

Sadly, the GR Jaycees Santa Parade announced today that the event was canceled.

When asked if the reverse parade could still go on, the GR Jaycees Santa Parade posted, ” No, due to State and city regulations we can no longer have that either.”

Here’s a look back at a few highlights from last year. Hang in there til 2021, Grand Rapids!

GR Santa Parade 2020

GR Santa Parade 2020 2

GR Santa Parade 2020

GR Santa Parade Has Been Canceled for 2020

This Year the Grand Rapids Santa Parade Will Be a Reverse Parade

The Grand Rapids Santa Parade (currently organized by the Grand Rapids Jaycees) has been a local tradition since 1919.

The parade is always held on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving in downtown Grand Rapids and serves to kick off the holiday season in West Michigan.

But in 2020, while the parade date remains fixed, the execution will be very different.

This year, the Grand Rapids Santa Parade will be a reverse parade.

A reverse parade simply means that the floats, balloons, and other parade units are parked along the parade route while the spectators slowly drive past the displays.

The Jaycees instruct, “All viewers should come in their cars to see the parade and drive through to see the holiday entrants.”

Parade-goers can expect a feast for the eyes with floats, giant balloons, marching bands, and of course, the real Santa Claus.

CANCELED: 2020 Grand Rapids Santa Parade Details + Map

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Parade Day is Saturday, November 21, 2020.

The parade drive-through is from 10 am – 1 pm. In the past, WOOD-TV 8 has broadcast the parade live.

In addition to the iconic Santa float, spectators will also see balloons, fire engines, cool vehicles, animals, and more.


Reverse GR Santa Parade Tips

As with anything new, plan for things to be a little clunky as people figure things out. Here are our best tips for experiencing the Reverse 2020 Grand Rapids Santa Parade

1) Think Through Restroom Matters

We haven’t done a reverse parade in Grand Rapids before, so we’re not sure how long you will be in your car. And once you’re in line and motoring through the parade route, there’s no stopping and no getting out of the car. Plan ahead for any restroom needs you may encounter while in line for the parade.

2) Make Waiting Fun

You’ll likely have time to kill in your car before you’re able to drive through the floats and displays. Have activities along to keep your kids occupied. Perhaps themed games, holiday snacks, and festive music would help pass the time.

A holiday podcast might just be the ticket. Try the free, seven-episode holiday podcast Welcome to Tinsel Town, where 8-year old Holly’s wish sends her on an adventure in Tinsel Town that includes a giant candy cane, a mysterious ornament, and a polar bear Queen.

3) Plan for Photos

Kids might want to bring cameras to capture what they see along the route. You might get a few selfies with Rudolph in the background.

If photos are important to you, strategically position riders in your car so that you have people capable of taking photos on each side of your vehicle. Remember, one adult will be driving and not be available for photo duty.

Normal Year Tips for the Best Grand Rapids Santa Parade Experience

In a normal year, the tips below would help you make it through a chilly parade morning. Save these for next year, when things are hopefully back to normal.

1) Bundle Up

Just like at the North Pole, you need to dress for the weather. Bundle up. Wear layers. Bring scarves, mittens, hats and bed your wagons with blankets. Warm boots and socks are a great touch, as well as hand and toe warmers. Nothing kills holiday spirit faster than a freezing child.

kids bundled up in a blanket and chair at parade

2) Parking

There are many parking ramps in downtown Grand Rapids close to the action. The Monroe Center parking lot (above Leo’s) has an hour of free parking. We’ve got the scoop on parking in downtown Grand Rapids if you’d like more info.

3) Bring a Bag

Some people in the parade toss candy and, while it’s nothing like what you score at Halloween, it’s nice to have a place to stash it.

4) Bring a Chair or Blanket

Bring chairs or a blanket to sit on and wrap up with – it’s a long parade.

5) Where to Watch the Grand Rapids Santa Parade

If you want less a crowded view, station yourself near the BOB, which is near the end of the parade route. If you want candy, sit near the front of the parade as they sometimes run out of candy.

Your Chance to Take a Photo with Santa

Meet Saint Nick directly after the parade and take your photo with him! This free event (sponsored by ITC) will be held in the lobby of the building at 250 Monroe. “We’re moving Santa indoors for a more pleasant experience for all,” says Sarah Fales, a parade organizer.

Have you been to the Grand Rapids Santa Parade? Any tips to share? Please leave a comment below!

Metro Health 2020 mobile compressor 1

23 thoughts on “UPDATE: Grand Rapids Santa Parade 2020 Has Been Called Off, Not Even the Reverse Parade is Happening”

  1. My company is wanting to be in the parade ? How do we join or is there a phone number I can call to set up something ?

  2. Where photos with Santa take place Disney’s Fancy Nancy star and Santa Parade Grand Marshall Mia Sinclair Jenness and Miss Michigan 2019 Mallory Rivard will be present for a Meet and Greet with fans as well until 12:15pm!

  3. Would you ever consider doing a night parade. So much prettier with the lights. I think you would get more people and easier for the little ones!

  4. would like to know where the route is located? I checked the website and nothing came up. Do you know which route the christmas parade is taking?

  5. Christine Donazzolo

    We drive from an hour away and yes we have to get up early but we have always enjoyed the entertainment and exciting floats and entries. We love hopping over to the library afterward.

    1. While our family likes to be at the beginning of the route you should be able to arrive around 10am if you plan to watch from the end of the parade route!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *