Sherman to live stream Christmas parade

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Members of the Sherman High Bearcat Marching Band participate in the city's annual Christmas and holiday parade in 2018. The city has announced that it will stream this event on the internet through a partnership with KXII.

Residents of Sherman will be able to enjoy the city's annual Christmas parade from the comfort of their homes this year.  City officials have announced that the parade will be streamed on the internet for 2020.

The move to live stream the annual event comes as cases of COVID-19 have surged locally in Grayson County in recent weeks.

"I think for the people who don't want to risk getting out, may have compromised health, or are older, we are really excited to offer that live stream for them to have a way to feel that they are kicking off the Christmas season," Main Street Manager Sarah McRae said.

The parade, which will feature dozens of floats, vehicles and other groups marching through downtown Sherman, will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday and will be live streamed on the KXII website. Like Sherman, the Denison Chamber of Commerce will also hold its annual parade this week when it hosts its own drive-thru parade Thursday night.

Outside of the changes to streaming, organizers said the parade will remain mostly unchanged this year.

"We are still doing it the same, but we have a long parade route and spaces that are ready for you to space out," Main Street Manager Sarah McRae said. "Crockett is usually a less populated place to stand if you are looking to avoid crowds."

The decision to offer streaming comes following previous attempts earlier this year to stream live events, including the annual Hot Summer Nights concerts on the municipal lawn.

Organizers initially attempted to stream using the wireless connection from the municipal building, however it was not strong enough to support it and other traffic. City officials later ran a dedicated physical cable to the streaming point, which allowed the concerts to be broadcast successfully.

However, the city will not have the same access to connectivity in downtown, McRae said.

"Even our Main Street office here in downtown is a remote location on the network," she said.

This led the city to consider partnerships that would allow the parade to be broadcast. 

"It will pretty much be the best seat in the house and you won't want to miss out," McRae said.

For those attending in person, McRae recommended that people practice social distancing, wear masks and follow public health guidelines. This includes spreading out away from the courthouse square, which has been a gathering point in previous years.

"This is not new to us, we are very deep into this year," she said. "So, I feel a lot of this is just common sense at this point. They all know they are not supposed to be standing next to anyone, they all know that they are supposed to be wearing their masks. They all know this."

As of Monday, 75 groups have registered for the parade, but McRae said she expects this to increase as the big day approaches.

Starting at 2 p.m. the city will hold its annual Snowflake Festival, featuring many vendors selling handmade goods and gifts. At 4 p.m. Rocky and the Bullwinkles will perform life on the Grayson County Courthouse steps.

Santa himself will also make an appearance earlier in the day to meet with children and take a photo. However, they will not be able to sit with him this year.

Santa Claus waves to the crowd from the top of the Woman Rock firetruck at the annual Sherman Christmas parade in 2017. The parade will be livestreamed on the internet this year through KXII, parade organizers said.

"They will be a little further away from Santa and will not be able to sit in his lap like a typical year," McRae said.

While organizers plan to hold the event, it hasn't gone unscathed in 2020. McRae said the traditional tree lighting outside the courthouse has been cancelled this year due to the crowds it traditionally draws.

"We have chosen to eliminate that part of the evening," she said. "We are just going to go directly into our parade."

McRae said she was uncertain how many people would attend this year's event due to the uncertainty following the pandemic. However, she fully expects crowds would be lighter this year.

In a bit of irony, the parade has been blessed with warmer weather in recent years, allowing for large crowds.

"These last few years we've had really beautiful warm weather and this year does look like it will be pretty chilly," she said. "If a normal year is 3,000 to 5,000 I would expect half than that or even less than that."

"I think for the people who don't want to risk getting out, may have compromised health, or are older, we are really excited to offer that live stream for them to have a way to feel that they are kicking off the Christmas season."

During Hot Summer Nights, they used a hard line from the municipal building to provide the connectivity.

"We tried to do it a couple ways during Hot Summer Nights and that was on our own property. When we were able to run a hard line down from the municipal building ... that was when we were able to make it work."