More than 60 groups, including 12 unique floats, will ring in the Christmas season when they march through the streets of Norco on Sunday, Dec. 1.
The most important guests of the day, Santa and Mrs. Claus, will fly into Norco in a helicopter (their sleigh is being serviced for the big night), landing on the River Road levee near Apple Street at around 1:30 p.m. The Clauses will be ushered into their special float just in time for the parade, which will start at 2 p.m. at the intersection of River Road and Washington Street.
From there, the parade turns north on Good Hope Street, west on Sixth Street and then south on Apple Street. It disbands at the intersection of Apple Street and River Road.
“It’s a small town celebration of all that’s good in our area - music, entertainment, but most of all family and friends,” Destrehan Principal Stephen Weber, one of the organizers of the event, said. “Not to mention it ushers in the beginning of the Christmas season.”
Music is a staple of the Christmas season and the Norco parade will not disappoint. There will be around 25 musical groups including the award-winning Destrehan High School Band, the Riverside Band, The Master’s Touch Drumline, the Greater New Orleans Drum Corp, St. Augustine’s Marching 100 and several dance troupes.
The 610 Stompers, a Star Wars marching group, cheerleaders from Destrehan and Hahnville, festival queens, classic cars and three horse riding groups will also join in the fun.
Last year’s parade was the most well-attended in history and Weber said that if the weather is nice on Sunday he expects even more people to line up on the parade route.
“This is something that everyone looks forward to and it is the first time in years that the Saints will not be playing on Sunday, so we expect a large crowd,” he said.
Weber remembers taking part in the parade while a Destrehan student in the 1970s. The parade disappeared in the early 80s but returned in 2001. Since then, it has continued to gain popularity not just in Norco, but in St. Charles Parish and areas beyond.
“The parade is held in Norco, but it has really turned into more than a community event because people from St. Charles Parish and areas out of the parish have adopted it as their own,” Weber said. “The Hahnville cheerleaders take part in the parade as do bands from the West Bank.”
Weber added that the parade helps show other communities how special Norco is.
“I grew up in Norco and it is a great place to grow up. We have had changes over the years, but the community really comes together,” he said. “I think it proves to surrounding areas how strong a community Norco and St. Charles Parish are.”
For the parade to go off without a hitch, local business like Shell, Motiva and Valero lend a helping hand. Weber also singled out the efforts of the St. Charles Parish government and the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.“Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to have such a great parade,” he said.
Weber said one man’s dedication to the event proves how special the volunteers are. Since 2001, Stephen Mayeux has flown his helicopter over Norco to deliver the Clauses to the parade.
“I can only imagine how much that cost him, but he never asks for anything,” Weber said. “He epitomizes what the parade is all about – people giving so that everyone can get into the holiday spirit.”
The family fun continues after the parade with a community celebration at the Capital One Bank parking lot on Apple Street where Santa and Mrs. Claus will light the Christmas tree.
Both Clauses will pose for pictures with the children in attendance, so organizers encourage parents to bring their cameras.