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— This year’s Bentonville Christmas Parade boasts 94 entries, a few changes and additions, parade officials said.

The parade will be at 11 a.m. Saturday. A large turnout is expected for what some believe is the largest daytime parade inthe state.

“We usually get between 7,000 and 9,000 folks down here for the parade,” said Daniel Hintz, director of Downtown Bentonville Inc. “We like to say between 7,000 and 9,000 because with so many people, it’s hard to get an exact count. But I know that at our last First Friday, we had around 4,500 here, and the crowd for the parade isusually twice that size.”

Hintz said he expects some minor changes to the parade to benefit everyone. The most significant difference between this year’s parade and years past is the route. With so many people attending the parade, Hintz said directing the route around the downtown square became difficult.

Instead of going aroundthe square, the parade will go straight on Main Street then left on Second Street, Hintz said. The reviewing stand will be in front of the Wal-Mart Visitor’s Center.

“A lot of this change had to do with pedestrian safety. With the size of the floats and the number of people, it was difficult to make some of those hard turns,” Hintz said.

The parade is almostidentical in size to last year’s but has enticed some new people. One is a team from First Baptist Church in Bentonville. Their theme involves a nativity.

“The whole church is behind us, but there’s actually about 10 of us working on it,” said Donita Moore, team leader. “So it’s a real small group, but we’re really excited.”

Hintz said the addition of the Miss Winter Wonderland pageant also gives this year’s parade extra spice. The pageant was held during the lighting festivities Nov. 22.

Activities will take place all day around the square.

“Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be out there, and they’ll stay out there for a couple of hours after the parade is over,” Hintz said.

News, Pages 8 on 12/02/2009

Print Headline: Bentonville parade to follow different route this year

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