After last year’s hiatus due to the pandemic, the Odessa Parade of Lights will make its return this year.
The event will start at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at 23rd Street on Andrews Highway and travel south on Andrews Highway, where it will turn west on Third Street to the Medical Center Hospital parking lot for de-staging.
Event Coordinator at Downtown Odessa Inc. Alexa Moulakis says there’s a lot of excitement to have the parade back this year after having to miss last year due to COVID protocols.
“Everything last year was just so off and nothing felt right,” Moulakis said. “This year, we’re finally getting back into the swing of things. We’re really going to celebrate the holidays like we’re used to doing out here. A big part of that has been the Parade of Lights. Getting to do that and seeing the excitement that people have and we’re super excited to do this this year after not being able to do it last year.”
This year, event organizers are hopeful of having an even bigger parade than the last one in 2019.
“So every year that we’ve had the parade for the past five or six years, minus last year, we’ve seen an increased participation both in the number of organizations and the number of vehicles and we’re on pace to surpass the number that we had in 2019,” Moulakis said. “Anytime that we’re able to do that is great. We love being able to provide an opportunity for the community to come out and see all the hard work that people put into their floats and really bring in the holiday cheers. The bigger, the better. We love seeing all the creativity. We love seeing all that happiness, especially from all the kids when they get to see all the lights and all the decorations and characters and all of that.”
Moulakis said that in previous years, the parade has had over 70 organizations, many of which have multiple vehicles and floats.
There have been upwards of 120-130 vehicles and floats in the past.
“We’re optimistic that we’re going to surpass that number,” Moulakis said.
This year, Moulakis is estimating that there will be 130-140 vehicles.
Odessa City Manager Michael Marrero is also optimistic that they will see a large number of participants.
“That’s still yet to be seen because we (recently) opened the registration so we’re hopeful that many folks take advantage and many organizations will take part in the parade,” Marrero said. “That’s always exciting to see new floats for the year. Often times, you’ll have the same groups but they mix it up so it’s always exciting to see what’s new this year.”
Music lovers will also be in luck once again this year as all the marching bands from around Ector County Independent School District perform, including the middle schools and the high schools.
“We actually partner with ECISD,” Moulakis said. “You’re going to see everyone out there. They’re all going to be out there. We bookcase the middle school bands in between the two high school bands. OHS and Permian switch back and forth to see who starts off the parade and who gets to end the parade. We’ll continue that tradition this year.”
Moulakis says that Compass Academy’s marching band is expected to take part and in the past, they’ve had the marching band from UTPB as well.
The lineup for the parade begins at Odessa College.
“They’re very great partners,” Moulakis said of Odessa College.
One of the things that Moulakis says makes the Parade of Lights such a crowd pleaser is that there’s no one set theme.
“Other places do like a themed Christmas parade but sometimes, there’s only so much you can do,” Moulakis said. “Here, we really like to see people’s creativity so we give some basic guidelines and basic rules to all participants.”
Some of the rules are that all floats need to have working Christmas lights and no depiction of Santa.
“The city actually does the Santa float,” Moulakis said. “He’s the last thing in the parade. Those are the only rules. Other than that, we let people use their creativity. It’s really amazing and we get a lot of compliments on how people can take Christmas and the holidays in so many different directions.”
For more information on the guidelines and to register, go to tinyurl.com/5fudnt48.
Registration goes on until 6 p.m. Dec. 4.
However, after noon on Dec. 1, there will be a late fee of $25 added.
“We really suggest people get registered before Dec. 1 to avoid that late fee,” Moulakis said.
The price to register depends on the entry division.
“For commercial businesses, it’s $100,” Moulakis said. “If they want to enter the Mayor’s Awards, that’s an additional $50. If they are a community organization, that’s $75 and if they are an individual or family, it’s $50. Even individuals can decorate their vehicles and can join or if people want to bring their horses into the parade, they can do that as well.”
There will be one event that will be new before this year’s parade.
A market street will take place on Texas Avenue the day of the event, located one block off the parade, going from Third Street to Fifth.
The market street will be a way for spectators to come early and have something to do before the parade starts.
“We’ll have vendors and food trucks and bouncing houses,” Moulakis said. “So that when people go out, they can leave their chairs or their blankets or whatever they want to mark their space and they’ll have something to do to keep them occupied before the parade. After the parade, we’re going to have Santa out there for activities.”
Marrero says they want people to have fun but to also clean up after themselves and be mindful of the pandemic that is still going on.
“We want everyone to come out and have a great time,” Marrero said. “But we also want people to remember that COVID is still a concern in this community. We want them to enjoy themselves but we also want them to help us in terms of making sure they take any trash back with them so that it makes it easier for our street cleaning folks so they can come back and not have a large amount of debris to deal with.”
If you go
- What: Parade of Lights.
- When: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4. Lineup begins at Odessa College.
- Where: Parade heads south from Odessa College on Andrews Highway to downtown. Parade ends at MCH parking lot.
- Where to register: tinyurl.com/5fudnt48