Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority will present the 44th Annual West Alabama Christmas Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 13 in downtown Tuscaloosa. The events are at 6:30 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. respectively and both are free and open to the public.


Most notable this year is that the parade moved to Friday evening, from its typical Monday night, to serve as “The Official Bicentennial Parade” on the official date of the Bicentennial Birthday.


“PARA is proud for the opportunity to serve as the Official Bicentennial Parade.  PARA receives multidisciplinary assistance from TDOT, Tuscaloosa Police Department, Northport Police Department, Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Department, Tuscaloosa Special Event staff and WVUA 23 marketing and news teams,” said Gary Minor, PARA Director.


“These groups work together with PARA staff to produce our largest event of the year with at least 10,000 participants and viewers. We are thankful to these many staffers and sponsors who helped make the Bicentennial event possible,” he said.


The 2019 Grand Marshals are Tim Parker, Cathy Randall and Harrison Taylor.  As written in their nominations, “Each is deserving of the recognition individually but together they make up the Dream Team.”  In addition to their lifelong history of community service, the three served as co-chairs of the Tuscaloosa Bicentennial Commission, leading an advisory committee of over 50 members during the three year planning process.


A special recognition is provided for the children of Fallen Officer Cousette and honoring First Responders. Cousette’ s daughters, Lydia Craig and Sylvia Cousette and their mother Jaclyn Craig will be transported by a TPD Officer immediately following the Grand Marshals in the Parade. Several buildings along the parade route, including the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse, BAMA Theatre and Tuscaloosa City Hall, will be lighted in blue (weather permitting) in honor of all First Responders.


The Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the steps of the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse is a tradition that has been in place as long as the parade. This year’s tree is a new 26’ tall artificial tree.


Kelli Wolfe will be Master of Ceremonies for the Tree Lighting event. The schedule of choral entertainment is as follows: Huntington Place Singers, Tree Lighting and then The Alabama Blues Project and Westwood Singers.


Prior to the Tree Lighting Ceremony, the Grand Marshals were honored with a Grand Marshal Reception. Mayor Walk Maddox presented proclamations to each Grand Marshal and PARA presented each with a framed parade poster. Providing holiday entertainment through song were Tracey Benson, a City of Tuscaloosa employee and her niece Jakayla Peoples, a Stillman College student.


The parade is recognized as the largest Christmas Parade in Alabama and this year will featured 149 registered entries, including a record 42 judged entries, five marching bands and five horse groups. The one-mile parade route begins on Greensboro Avenue at 11th Street, travels east to University Blvd. turns north and ends at the corner of University Blvd. and 20th Avenue.


For the ninth year in a row, WVUA 23 will air PARA’s Parade in its entirety. The live broadcast will begin at 6:30 p.m., just as the parade kicks-off in downtown Tuscaloosa. The parade will be rebroadcast on WVUA-23 on December 14 at 10 a.m. according to WVUA 23 officials.


Parking is available in the city’s Intermodal Facility/Parking Deck located at the corner of 7th Street and 23 Avenue and is a central location to meet your group before and after the parade. Additional parking is available along the parade route.


Portable toilets will be located in three points along the parade route. The first location is in the former DCH Home Health parking lot on Greensboro Avenue. The second location is in the corner of Greensboro Avenue and 6th Street by the BAMA Theatre, which will also feature a handicapped accessible toilet. The third location is the YMCA Park, corner of Greensboro Avenue and 12th Street. All are open to the public.


A “Lost and Found” station for children and other items is located in the PARA Building located at 614 Greensboro Avenue.


Tuscaloosa Police Department will close the streets of the parade route beginning at 6:15 p.m. The parade is expected to last approximately two hours.