Downtown Appleton’s Christmas Parade: Extra security and Peace on Earth

The parade is expected to draw 80,000 people -- many who are continuing a family tradition.
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 7:04 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2022 at 9:58 PM CST
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - The 51st Downtown Appleton Christmas Parade is expected to draw up to 80,000 people along its route, and for many paradegoers it’s a family tradition.

The crowd grew considerably by 6 p.m., with people packed shoulder-to-shoulder along College Avenue and families staking their viewing spots with chairs and blankets.

It’s the largest night-time event of its kind in the Upper Midwest. Organizers tell Action 2 News the parade will feature 80 to 85 units, including floats and area marching bands. It’s also the first time the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Titan Band will perform in the parade.

Many consider the parade the official kick-off to the holiday shopping season in the Fox Valley.

Because of the tragic crime at Waukesha’s parade last year, we’re told police are taking extra precautions to ensure everyone’s safety.

“In the past, we’ve always had a very good detailed safety plan, but things got stepped up a notch with what happened last year in Waukesha and also in the Chicago area with the 4th of July parade there. With the response we’re getting from the community, that’s not going to hinder the spirits of those who are going to attend,” Eric Stadler, assistant chair on the Appleton Parade Committee, said.

The parade begins at 7 P.M.

This year’s theme is “Peace on Earth.” The grand marshal is Mary Beth Nienhaus, who’s being honored for her community involvement.

“She’s done so much for the community -- a major philanthropist here in the Fox Cities, not just in Appleton, but throughout the Fox Cities and beyond with the pickleball court she recently put in Tellulah Park, and Habitat for Humanity support that she gives, the Marigold Mile, and so many other things, so we’re glad to be able to highlight her today,” Stadler said.

Before the parade, a truck drive down the Avenue will collect items for the St. Joseph Food Pantry.

Brynley Vande Voort of Kaukauna said, “It’s really beautiful to see the lights, and how many people are out here to bring people together for the wonderful holidays.” Does dad agree? I agree, wholeheartedly, her dad, Jake replied with a laugh.

For some, the quest for a front row seat meant staking out a spot early.

“This year is extra special because I have Jessica and Chris Dempsey who got married today. So they are on their way over and this is going to be there little spot to sit for the parade,” said Jill Fritsch of Neenah. When asked whether she was in charge of holding down the seats, she said, “You betcha. At noon, I was down here, absolutely.”

Emily Meyer of Appleton was among the few, seeing the parade for the first time Tuesday night.

She brought her young son, James.

“I am living thru his excitement, because I remember being so excited as a kid. Now, getting to see him so excited, it just makes everything better,” said Meyer.

Paradegoers are starting to stake their claims on the sidewalks along College Avenue