BY ANNA ROBERTSON HAM
It’s time to celebrate the holidays in Williamson County! A true Christmas tradition in Franklin is the Kiwanis Franklin Christmas Parade which is rolling into town on December 7th at 2pm in downtown Franklin! The Kiwanis Club of Historic Downtown Franklin has been organizing the Franklin Christmas Parade for more than twenty years, bringing joy and the spirit of Christmas to the community. The Kiwanis Club is an international organization with 550,000 members of all ages in eighty countries, all with a common mission of improving the lives of children one community at a time. Each local club identifies ways to achieve that goal in their respective communities. The Franklin Kiwanis Club was originally chartered in 1980 and has been serving our local community since.
The Franklin Christmas Parade is now the primary fundraiser for the club, although there have been other fundraising activities over the years. “In addition to the scholarship program we implemented last year, we have repeatedly given financial support to the GraceWorks Fuelbags program, Saddle Up, ABLE Youth, Special Olympics - to name a few,” says Club President Marta Eynatten. “A year ago, we sponsored a local young man who competed in the National Para Games representing the state of Tennessee. We've purchased Christmas gifts for residents at My Friends House and CASA kids, as well as purchasing gifts for children through the Franklin Firefighters Association Toy Drive.”
“The club gave scholarships to kids several years ago but had stopped due to limited funds. When we started our parade sponsorship program three years ago, we were able to resume the scholarship program,” explains Marta. “Our plan was to award five $1,000 scholarships to seniors from the five local high schools. The applicants were so outstanding, we weren't able to narrow it down to five, so we awarded ten. Information about the scholarships is available through guidance counselors at Franklin High, Independence High, Page High, Centennial, and Renaissance High.”
In the past five years, the Franklin Christmas Parade has grown by leaps and bounds, with nearly 100 entries. Those participating range from nonprofits to businesses to school groups to Scouts. “The excitement this year is our band participation has grown from five or six bands, to four states and approximately 850 young adults,” Marta says. “If you love a parade with bands - don't miss it this year! We will also have Mrs. Claus riding in the sleigh with Santa this year - which is a first!”
Marta says, although the Kiwanis Club organizes and promotes the parade themselves, they could not do it without the help and support of the local firefighters, police, streets and sanitation, city and parks.
The Kiwanis Club of Historic Downtown Franklin is a small but growing club. To learn more about the club or to become involved, contact email@example.com.