Festival, floats and familiar faces mark fifth annual Rocky Hill Christmas Parade

Tracy Haun OwensFeature, West Knoxville

Even the Grinch will have the holiday spirit at the Rocky Hill Christmas Parade. Sammy Peroulas of the restaurant family that owns Pero’s on the Hill on Northshore Drive will dress as the hard-hearted Christmas hater to act as the grand marshal of the fifth annual parade on Saturday, Dec. 1.

A pre-parade festival starts at 3 p.m. at Rocky Hill Shopping Center and this year features a Christmas Market with 25 vendors and live entertainment.

The parade steps off from the Rocky Hill Ballfields, 7633 Alki Lane off Morrell Road, at 6 p.m. and will travel to the east end of Rocky Hill Shopping Center at Rocky Hill Baptist Church, 7409 S. Northshore Drive. At the conclusion of the parade will be a tree lighting with Santa Claus.

In the parade, Santa Claus will ride a float with students from Webb School of Knoxville, and there will be a Butler & Bailey Market-sponsored float with Rocky Hill Elementary students, plus floats from local businesses, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and more.

Rocky Hill resident and Webb School science teacher Miller Callaway is co-chairing the parade with Claire Gillespie, who owned Gillespie Import Service with her late husband, Steve. Callaway says the Christmas Parade – and the Rocky Hill Business District that manages it – were originally the Gillespies’ idea.

Callaway says the actual number of floats in the parade is much the same as last year because of the logistics of closing parts of Northshore and Morrell. Road closures will be at Morrell and Nubbin Ridge and at Northshore and Morrell from about 5:30 to 6:45.

“We can only close Northshore for a limited time,” Callaway says.

As community interest has grown – close to 10,000 people may line the parade route this year – organizers have expanded other parts of the event, including this year’s new Christmas Market and a bigger play area for children (with a bounce house from All Occasions).

Entertainment starts at 3 with a performance by the School of Rock All Stars. The Webb School of Knoxville Madrigal Singers take the stage at 4. At 4:30, Peroulas will read “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to the assembled crowd and take pictures with young fans. Knoxville Americana singer-songwriter Brendon James Wright plays from 5 until 6.

“He’s a great musician,” Callaway says. “We are super excited to have him.”

Presenting sponsors include Butler & Bailey Market, Cherokee Distributing Co. and Pilot/Flying J. Numerous other local businesses have also signed on. Info (and a parade map) here.



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