North Beach is kicking off the holiday season Friday with its annual two-day celebration to get people in the Christmas spirit.
Christmas on the Beach will begin at 7 p.m. with “Light Up the Town,” during which North Beach residents will gather on the pavilion on the pier and drink hot chocolate and eat cookies as Mayor Mark Frazer flips a switch and lights up the town’s Christmas tree and holiday displays, said Dawn Richardson, the town’s marketing and public relations coordinator.
“We had a terrific crowd last year, and we expect another huge turnout for the music and the hot chocolate, and everybody is just kind of waiting for the holiday season to kick off unofficially, and I think that’s what it represents,” Frazer said of Friday’s event.
The tree lighting is one of Frazer’s favorite events during the celebration because “it’s exciting for everyone,” he said, but he also enjoys the parade, which starts Saturday’s portion of the celebration at noon.
“It’s been made a memorial to Pat Carpenter, who worked so hard to get the parade off the ground several years ago,” he said. “That’s a highlight.”
The Pat Carpenter Holiday Parade, formerly the Beaches Holiday Parade, will run along Bay Avenue from First Street to Seventh Street. The parade was renamed to honor its founder. She died this year.
Bob Carpenter said his wife and her brother grew up in Kansas, where most holidays are celebrated with a parade. Because North Beach did not have a holiday parade, he said, the two wanted to bring that tradition to the area. About six years ago, Pat Carpenter and her brother were chatting over a few drinks one Saturday afternoon and realized the town needed a holiday parade, he said.
“Pat and her brother, Kevin Lane, were just talking one day and thought, ‘Well, let’s do a parade,’ ” he said. “That’s really how it began, and it’s grown every year.”
Last year, there were 81 entries in the parade, which is sponsored by the Bay Business Group, Bob Carpenter said, and as of about two weeks before the parade this year, there were more than 60 entries. He said he believed “we’ll surpass 80” this year.
Bob Carpenter said his late wife loved the parade.
“Every year, on about Sept. 1, she would . . . put her parade hat on, and everything she did revolved around the parade,” he said. “Even the year that the weather was so miserable, [she thought] the show must go on. I think it’s a very nice tribute to her.”
The parade will feature floats from local organizations, schools, churches, businesses, pets and their owners, marching bands, motorcycles, antique cars, the Beach Buccaneers and Santa and Mrs. Claus, according to a news release.
To join the parade, contact Bob Carpenter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-980-2144. To view the parade, claim a seat along Bay Avenue no later than 11:45 a.m., the town said in a statement.
The town added something new to this year’s celebration, Richardson said, called “Jollyfest on 7th.” Between noon and 5 p.m., vendors and artists will set up displays to sell their items, including “wreaths and seasonal things”; bands will perform live; town shops will offer holiday specials; and members of the Twin Beach Players will be dressed in “Christmas Carol”-type attire and sing holiday songs, Richardson said.
“We just say it’s a wonderland of holiday festivities,” Richardson said.
Starting at 1 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus will meet with children and listen to what they want for Christmas during “Santa on the Beach,” Richardson said.
From 4 to 5 p.m., residents can gather at the town hall for the “Holiday Extravaganza,” at which members of the Abigail Francisco School of Classical Ballet and members of a youth chorus will perform.
“It will be a very festive and busy weekend,” Frazer said. “It’s just a very happy time in North Beach.”