Port Arthur parade & 2020 Census party kicking off Saturday

Published 12:18 am Friday, December 13, 2019

The city of Port Arthur is celebrating in more ways than one Saturday with the Christmas parade beginning at 6 p.m., followed by the 2020 Census kick-off party at 7:30 p.m.

Christe Whitley Ned, executive secretary to the mayor and parade organizer, said is excited for the citywide collaboration.

“This will be the first time we have the parade and census kickoff together,” she said. “We are expecting it to be a great night and to have another successful Christmas parade. We’ll have motorcycles, Hummers, floats, marching bands and everything.”

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Parade participants will gather in the parking lot of Woodrow Wilson Early College campus and begin their route at the intersection of Lake Charles and Procter Street.

“Our goal is to bring people into the holiday spirit, to bring joy and a lot of laughter,” Ned said. “Christmas is a magical time and hopefully we are adding to people’s desire to have a great Christmas.”

The parade will include dozens of lights, floats and entertainment including newcomers from Airport Shuttle and Limousine Services and the Crew of Jesters, a Mardi Gras organization.

Port Arthur ISD schools, along with Tekoa Academy, Bob Hope School and St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School will participate in the walk. Memorial High School’s Mighty Titan Band will also march in the parade.

Ned said the biggest challenge in organizing the town’s parade is getting everyone on the same page.

“It can be a challenge to organize something on this scale, but everyone that works on it loves it,” she said. “I want to thank everyone who has helped including Mike Flores and Shane Jennings, as well as everyone at Port Arthur Parks and Recreation.”

Ned also thanks Starbucks for providing free coffee to parade participants.

“I’m the spokesperson and I organize the parade, but it wouldn’t happen without everyone behind the scenes,” she said. “We’re all very excited and looking forward to the finished parade.”

The parade will end at the downtown Port Arthur Pavilion, where the census party will officially starts.

Ned said the event would include guest speakers such as Texas State Rep. Joe Deshotel, Port Arthur Mayor Pro Tem Harold Doucet and Jefferson County Commissioner Michael Sinegal, with Dr. Albert Thigpen serving as master of ceremony.

For the first time, the elementary schools will also perform under the Pavilion during the occasion.

“This year we will see Abraham Lincoln Middle School choir and Booker T. Washington Elementary choir singing and performing for us,” Ned said. “We will also have additional entertainment, foods trucks and free beignets by Louisiana Donuts and free hot chocolate sponsored by the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.”

Cheryl Gibbs, public information officer for the city of Port Arthur, said the Christmas parade is the perfect event to pair with the 2020 Census kickoff party.

“With the census kickoff, what we are trying to do is to get everyone to respond to the census,” she said. “The last one the city had, there was low or no response because people weren’t counting the babies. So we are going to do some announcements to tell people just how important it is.

“We should all be working toward an accurate count, because it matters. We’re excited about it. We want people to respond to the census. We want to be counted all in, one city, one town. This is our time to reach our citizens and tell them the importance of the census count in a fun and informative way.”