Changes Come To Watertown Christmas Traditions

Changes Come To Watertown Christmas Traditions

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Crews are bringing in the Christmas tree to Public Square and people are decorating their trees at the Dulles State Office Building. 

But this year, Watertown's holiday festivities are scheduled a bit earlier compared to years past.

The downtown Christmas parade is set for Thursday night. The North Country Festival of Trees, a weekend-long event, will start with a preview Thursday night and the gala on Friday.

Elizabeth Slack-Joles has brought her kids to the parade every year. Since it's scheduled for a weeknight, she says it might be tough for her little ones to stay up for it this time.

"They'd be exhausted the next day. I know there's a half day, but they still have to get up in the morning," she said.

Watertown City Planner Geoff Urda helped make the decision. Urda says the Festival of Trees gala and parade have often happened on the same nights in the past.

"No one would really be able to attend both, you'd have to choose one or the other... moving the parade to Thursday was to make it so that anyone could attend both events," he said.

And there's another change: the parade route. It starts on Court Street and will continue to the opposite end of the square heading toward Mill Street.

The new start location will keep Black River Parkway open until 7 p.m. instead of 5, helping with traffic flow.

Steve Rowell is part of the committee for the Festival of Trees. He pitched the idea to spread the events out and allow people to pick and choose, or attend both.

"We said maybe we can align this so that by starting everything on Thursday, people can get out and get their weekend started. That way we're not drawing smaller crowds," said Rowell.

The parade starts at 7 p.m. Thursday and the Festival of Trees kicks off with a preview at 5 p.m. Thursday and the gala at 6 p.m. Friday. 

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