Those words kick off a Lawrence holiday tradition, the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade, held the first Saturday in December at 11 A.M. This year, on December 2, 2023, it will be for the 30th time.
If you love horses, holidays, and history, you’ll love the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade. Held since 1993, this all-horse parade features historically accurate wagons, carriages, and horse-drawn vehicles of every sort decorated in holiday finery. The parade is part of the Downtown Lawrence Winter Wonder Weekend with everything you need for holiday shopping, dining, and entertainment.
From a humble beginning, the Lawrence Christmas Parade has grown to a major event in the Midwest with as many as 85 entries. Originally named “The Eldridge Hotel Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade” it was the brainchild of Robert W. Phillips, a local businessman and general manager of the (at the time) newly renovated Eldridge Hotel. This hotel plays a significant role in Lawrence and Kansas history, having twice been burned to the ground and twice rising from the ashes.
As news of this event spread, the number of entries increased each year and the crowds who came to watch grew dramatically. With entries traveling from five states, the parade acquired national recognition and was named a Top 10 Things to Do During the Christmas Season by USA Today.
Here are some tips for making memories at the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade:
- Come early. The parade officially begins at 11 A.M. but the fun starts much earlier! Parade-watchers begin gathering several hours before the starting time to settle in, bringing blankets, chairs, and even a recliner from home! The excitement is contagious and it's hard to tell whether the entries or the spectators are having more fun. Downtown Lawrence offers multiple options for breakfast and brunch before the parade so you can fuel up before claiming your viewing spot. Other pre-parade activities include the Watkins Museum’s Tails & Trails Scavenger Hunt and the opening of the Parades as Community Exhibit on the second floor of the museum at the corner of 8th and Massachusetts.
- Take advantage of the multiple parking garages and surface lots just off of Massachusetts. Parking spots on Massachusetts Street generally fill up the night before, but plenty of parking, free and paid, is available just a block on either side of Massachusetts. See the parking map for all your options.
- Plan to stay after the parade. Let the traffic disperse while you enjoy the variety of shopping and dining options on and off Massachusetts. The pedestrian-friendly main street is named after the home state of the founders but is known to the locals as Mass Street. It’s been called “the best destination in Kansas.” There you will find unique shops and art galleries, locally owned restaurants, breweries, coffee houses, and music venues.