Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023–11:00 a.m.
-David Crowder, WRGA News-
The 2022 edition of the Rome Christmas Parade was one of the biggest ever, with more than 100 entries, and as a result, the Light up Rome campaign got a big boost.
A portion of the proceeds from the parade goes to Rome Downtown Development Authority to purchase Christmas decorations for the downtown area. In the past, those checks have usually been around $5,000. This year, Jerry Rucker with the Christmas Parade presented a check for $10,000.
“We are incredibly grateful,” said DDA director Aundi Lesley. “This will go toward our Light up Rome campaign and we will use these funds to hopefully purchase more decorations.”
The DDA purchased a number of new decorations for 2022 using $50,000 from various funding sources. For the first time ever, the City of Rome agreed to use capital funds. Money was also used from the Light up Rome campaign which utilizes proceeds from the parade to purchase decorations. There was also Business Improvement District funding. Business and property owners in the BID pay an annual assessment to fund improvements and services.
Garlands and bows were installed up and down Broad Street and on the Chief John Ross Pedestrian Bridge. Several photo-op pieces were added, such as a large ornament stack at Broad and Fourth Avenue, a large wreath in front of the Carnegie Building, and a gift box at the Town Green. Another new attraction in 2022 was an 18-foot, live Christmas tree at the Town Green, which was donated by the Richie family with Richie Farms.
The eventual goal is to make downtown a holiday destination.
“Before the streetscape happened in the 1980s, we have vintage-type decorations that went across the whole of Broad Street,” Lesley added. “So, I think it’s nostalgic for a lot of people who want to see that vintage Christmas look come back. We’re working toward that.”
The next short-term goal is to purchase decorations, such as garlands, bows, and lights for the River District along West Third Street and Fifth Avenue.
“Of course, that will be planned alongside the streetscape project as well,” Lesley said. Then, our goal is to add more pieces for Broad Street.
Jerry Rucker with the Rome Christmas Parade Committee presents a $10,000 check to DDA director Aundi Lesley surrounded by DDA Board members and parade committee members Thursday.
(From left) Kelli Duncan, Tayesha Lytle, Jennifer Bailey Bowers, Carey Ingram, Megan Watters, Aundi Lesley, D.J. Rickman, Jerry Rucker, Randy Quick. Phillip Burkhalter, Harry Brock, and Megan Otwell
(Photo by Doug Walker)