The Parade of Lights in McKinney, Texas

by Sheryl Faber
Community parades often showcase school musical talent.

Community parades often showcase school musical talent.

Hemera Technologies/ Images

The Parade of Lights is a holiday event held in McKinney, Texas, every year in early December. It is a community event sponsored by the McKinney Rotary Club and features representation by the youth, civic organizations, schools and charities of the city and other small local towns. Antique cars, bands, dance and drill teams and other groups all take part in this annual event. It is a parade that is highly anticipated and attended by over 1,000 townspeople.


McKinney, Texas, is a town of approximately 131,000 residents. It is located about 30 miles north of Dallas at the intersections of Highway 380 and U.S. Highway 75. The parade itself is held in the McKinney town square each year, the first Saturday evening in December, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. In 2010, the parade was held on the evening of Saturday, December 4.


Every year the Rotary chooses a different theme for the parade. In 2010, the theme chosen was "The Songs of Christmas" and in 2009 it was "An Old Fashioned Christmas." Float parade participants decorate their mobile exhibitions and costumes according to the theme of the season in attempt to win the event float contest.

Parade Participants and Competition

Businesses, charities and civic organizations can enter their floats in the parade at a cost of $35.00 per float. Applications and entry fees must be turned in by mid-November. There is a contest to determine the best float based on creativity, workmanship, costumes and other pertinent criteria. In 2010, there were approximately 60 floats in the Parade of Lights.

McKinney Santa Claus

The Parade of Lights even has its own designated Santa Claus. Tommy Stanley, a McKinney resident, graduate of the International University of Santa Claus and member of the Red Suit Society, has been the acting Santa for the Parade of Lights since 1999. He and his wife are very active in the community and are staunch supporters of the parade, providing Christmas cheer to local children and their families.

Other McKinney Events

McKinney, Texas, named one of the five best places to live in the August 2010 issue of Money Magazine, features many other community holiday events. These include "Dickens of a Christmas" activities such as tree lighting, shopping, and caroling during Thanksgiving weekend, the Holiday Tour of Homes during the first weekend of December and Candlelight Shopping every Saturday evening until 8 p.m. through December. McKinney, Texas, is clearly a fun-filled and community-oriented town during the Christmas season.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images