Nashville Christmas parade steeped in history

Nashville Christmas parade steeped in history

Kelly Clarkson, Gavin DeGraw, Jo Dee Messina and other stars grace The Musical Mile

More than 200,000 people lined the streets when word got out that Elvis might make an appearance at the 1956 Nashville Christmas Parade. Unfortunately, the King never showed up, but longtime parade spectators have seen stars including Conway Twitty, Emmylou Harris, Charlie Daniels and Brenda Lee serve as grand marshal.

Can't make it to Nashville? You're in luck!

The Nashville Christmas Parade will be aired live on local Nashville CBS-affiliate WKRN-TV and syndicated nationally on nearly 200 television stations from Dec. 10 through the end of January. Click here to find out where you can watch the parade. 

This year, spectators at the parade can add Grammy award winner and original American Idol Kelly Clarkson to that list when she serves as grand marshal for the Dec. 3 parade, which will be televised nationally for the first time in its 89 years.

“I love our city of Nashville and couldn’t be more proud to be the Grand Marshal for this year’s Christmas Parade,” Clarkson said in a statement. “See y’all there!”

Clarkson won’t be the only star on Broadway, Nashville’s famous honky-tonk lined street and parade route. This year, the parade is doubling its length to two hours and tripling the number of performers. Clarkson will be joined by Jo Dee Messina, Maddie & Tae, Gavin DeGraw, Aaron Tippin and Ty Herndon to name a few.  

Like most things in Nashville, the Christmas parade is immersed in country music and tradition. The parade has been city staple since its debut in 1927, and Piedmont Natural Gas has sponsored the parade since 1952.

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Piedmont Natural Gas Community Relations Director Stephen Francescon said as many as 70 volunteers from the company organize and march in the parade each year. Parade proceeds have historically benefitted Share the Warmth, a program that helps low-income families with their energy bills. Since 2003, the Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation has donated $2.8 million to the program.

For the first time, parade proceeds will also help build a four-floor expansion at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt as part of the hospital’s Growing to New Heights campaign.

As always, though, Santa and his reindeer will fly in for the event.

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