Seguin’s annual Holiday Stroll Parade is back after a year off and will be led by someone who — at the hands of another — could have been forced to permanently miss the event and all others.
Seguin Police Sgt. Brad Flippin will serve as the parade’s grand marshal, which will march down Austin Street from College Street to Central Park on Dec. 2. Flippin was injured earlier this year when he was shot while responding to a domestic disturbance call.
“Sgt. Flippin is a hero and the least we can do is honor him and his family during the holiday time,” Seguin Mayor Donna Dodgen said. “Brad saved lives and he does it every day in the line of duty. We are grateful for the men and women who serve as first responders. Here in Seguin, they work together and as a unit.
“We are blessed.”
The parade kicks off the annual, three-day Holiday Stroll, said Jack Jones, Seguin Parks and Recreation Department director.
Jones is happy to see the entire event return to town after a year off due to concerns of spreading the coronavirus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After a year hiatus, it’s coming back,” Jones said. “It’s almost like we’re normal again. COVID is going to be out there and something we have to live with, but we’re getting back to normal, some normal things and normal special events, which includes our normal Holiday Stroll Parade.”
Flippin and his family will ride at the front of the parade alongside Dodgen in a horse-drawn carriage, Jones said.
Behind them is the ambulance unit and crew that rushed to provide Flippin medical attention after he was shot.
City officials want to acknowledge the fire department’s ambulance crew for its bravery as well, Jones said.
“We want to recognize them for going in there knowing there was a gunshot victim,” he said. “They got the call that an officer was hit. They went in and got him out of there really quickly to get him cared for.”
The parade kicks off at 6:30 p.m. from the corner of College and North Austin streets. It heads down Austin and ends just south of the Wells Fargo bank at Washington Street, Jones said.
As of about mid-week, the city had received around 40 or so float entires for the parade, he said. Officials had scheduled the entry deadline for 5 p.m. Friday but have since extended it, Jones said.
“Two years ago, we had over 70. We’re definitely still interested in getting more parade entires,” he said. “We want to have people in the parade decorating their floats and lighting things up for people to see. We’ll definitely take late entries as long as those are coming in.
“We’re on our way to having a good Holiday Stroll but we’d certainly like to have more entires just to make it even better.”
After the parade, Dodgen will announce winners of a Christmas tree decorating contest at Central Park and then hit a switch to illuminate all of the Christmas lights and Christmas trees downtown, said Kyle Kramm, Seguin’s Main Street and Convention and Visitors Bureau director/historic preservation officer.
“All of the lights come on and Santa will be there for pictures after the parade ends as well,” Kramm said.
Food vendors will sell food around the park, and most shops will close that night so that their proprietors can enjoy the festivities and prepare for the next night’s activities, Kramm said.
The following night is the annual Cocoa Sip ’N Stroll from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, Kramm said. About 30 businesses will stay open late to accommodate shoppers as they sample various flavors of hot cocoa and select their favorite.
By the end of the night, the city will know who served the best hot chocolate and officials will crown a people’s choice award winner, Kramm said.
“There will be judges for the hot cocoa as well as the people’s choice,” he said. “Everybody can vote for their favorite hot cocoa.”
Live entertainment includes the Seguin High School Star Steppers and Wee Steppers, little dancers from the school district’s elementary schools, Kramm said.
Saturday morning brings back the annual Jingle Bell 5K, which starts at 9 a.m. in Central Park, officially kicking off the North Pole Stroll. Participants will race from the park to Walnut Springs Park and then up and down the hike and bike trail at Park West, Kramm said.
The North Pole Stroll is geared toward younger children. Local organizations will post up around the park with various children’s activities with area schools providing live entertainment, Kramm said. Activities include cookie decorating, ornament decorating and more. The Holiday Stroll offers something for everyone, he said.
“Especially if you’re new to town, it’s a great opportunity to see and meet all the businesses downtown,” Kramm said. “You get to meet some new neighbors and make friends. It just really helps you get into the holiday spirit.”
There’s also something for longtime residents, he said.
“It’s always a great time to come out and be with your neighbors and be with your community,” Kramm said. “There’s always a little something different every year.”
Holiday Stroll is billed as a three-day event. But the fun doesn’t end on Saturday.
The Seguin Art League has its own event called Yulefest taking place the next day. It is not officially a part of the Holiday Stroll but Yulefest does keep the fun happening for the remainder of the weekend.
“It is an arts and crafts show,” Yulefest chair Karen Roberson said. “We have approximately 80 booths. We’ve had more but, you know, COVID. All the items are handmade by the vendors. It’s just a sale of lots of handmade items.”
Craftspeople who make things like jewelry, pottery, Christmas wreaths and much, much more are on hand peddling their goods, she said.
Anyone shopping for handmade items for themselves or for gifts is encouraged to attend, Roberson said. Beyond the great items available for purchase, Yulefest has another draw, she said.
“The big thing is that it is free to the public,” Roberson said. “There’s no admission fee. The Art League considers it our gift to the community.”
Proceeds from vendor booth fees help the league with its operations costs, she said.
Following last year’s cancellation of so many events, it feels good this year to have Holiday Stroll and all it entails, Jones said.
“We’re really excited,” he said. “It’s bringing the holiday spirit, it’s bringing the community together.”