A Look Back at Holiday Caravan Parades Rowan County has a long and rich history, dating back to the mid 1700s. Each municipality has a unique story to share. The Holiday Caravan Parade is no different. So take a few moments to look back and remember with us. Perhaps you'll remember when and where you were during various parades of yesteryear!
A Simple and Small Beginning in 1952 As the story goes, the Spencer Jaycees began the parade concept with the intention of buying and selling Christmas lights for the community. The ceremony was held at the city park, and the Spencer Jaycees arranged for a small parade. Only three units participated, including the Spencer High School Band, Miss Spencer (who rode in a convertible), and, of course, Santa Claus on the famous fire truck. Little did the organizers realize that scores of people would turn out for the celebration. The Spencer Jaycees responded quickly and lengthened the route at the last minute so that everyone could enjoy the holiday parade!
Parade Gains Name, Fame and Queen As enthusiastic crowds continued to grow, so did the number of parade units during the next few years. And, in 1956, the parade was officially titled the Rowan County Christmas Parade. News spread quickly about the latest additions to the parade -- antique cars, homemade floats, the Price High School Band and, an "official parade queen!" Parade officials held a pageant to select a queen to reign over the Rowan County Christmas Parade. And the crowds just grew larger and larger each year. In 1957, the police estimated the crowd attendance at more then 20,000.
The Merger: We ALL Love a Parade! In 1960, the Salisbury Rowan Merchants Association and the Salisbury Jaycees approached the Spencer Jaycees hoping to join efforts for the annual event. An agreement was reached and it seemed as if everyone would benefit, mostly area residents and "kids of all ages" who love a parade! Once again, the parade route was lengthened to include "Main Streets" in Spencer and Salisbury. In 1962, the parade became known as 'the Carolinas' Loveliest and Liveliest," thanks to the bright and colorful clowns, the lovely beauty queens and the many high-stepping marching bands that paraded through Spencer and Salisbury.
Carl E. Weinbrunn and The Holiday Caravan Parade In 1963, the search was on for a new name for the Rowan County Christmas Parade. But this time, the contest was open to the public. Carl E. Weinbrunn submitted the winning entry - HOLIDAY CARAVAN. In 1966, the Caravan board established the Carl E. Weinbrunn Award, given by the judges to the most outstanding unit in each year's Holiday Caravan Parade.
Julian C. Johnston Honor Band Award Julian C. Johnston was involved in 35 Caravans as a Jaycee, and then as a director of the parade, until his death in 1995. The parades board of directors established the Honor Band Award in memory of Johnston and his countless contributions.