The Vilonia Christmas Parade, Festival of Trees and Soup Supper to be held Saturday night will help to usher in the holiday season with lights, the sounds of jingle bells and shopping.

"I am satisfied everyone will have a good time if they come to Vilonia Saturday," said parade chairman Keith Hillman, who is also the fire chief, said at a meeting Monday.

The parade, with the theme "Illuminating Christmas’ of the Past," begins in downtown Vilonia at 5 p.m. with lit up floats reflecting on memories from previous years. And, the one and only Santa Claus will be ushered in on the fire truck. Currently, organizers said there are about 40 entries including business floats, bands, beauty pageant winners, cheerleaders, boy scouts and girl scouts and 4-H Club members.

Multiple people riding on a float should meet elsewhere and ride in on the float to the starting position at the city park, said Chief of Police Brad McNew, also assisting with the organization. The route will be from the city park to the high school parking lot.

"All floats and other entries have to be at the park by 4:45," McNew said, adding that the road to the park will be shut down for safety reasons at that time. Those wishing to walk in to the park may do so by traveling Industrial Drive, parking in the vicinity of Vilonia Water. However, driving in to the park has no access from the Industrial Drive location.

Former Vilonia mayors will serve as the grand marshals. Mayor James Firestone, who was grand marshal last year, will serve as the announcer. He will be set up at the grandstand located in the front of Vilonia Realty in the downtown area.

There is no entry fee. However, there is an application process with the deadline being Wednesday. To obtain application forms or additional information call Jill Bonnema 501-499-1312 or e-mail viloniachamberofcommerce@yahoo.com. Also, any antique or classic automobile owners wanting to enter their vehicles may coordinate entries with James Edwards at 501-680-7751.

The city will provide awards in various categories as well as an overall award. The winners will be chosen by out of town judges. Horses and four-wheelers will not be permitted.

The festivities will not end with the parade. The Museum of Veterans and Military History Brigade is sponsoring a Soup Supper and Festival of Trees. Being held at the high school cafeteria, shoppers can begin bidding on decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, baked goods and other gift items at noon with a live auction beginning at 6:30 p.m. In the spirit of giving, many have donated items for the event with the proceeds going to the museum. Also, beginning at 5 p.m., parade goers can warm up with a bowl of soup, cornbread muffins, cookies, tea and coffee for $5.

Compliments of the Vilonia Fire Department and Mike Harwood of MLC Photography, Santa Claus will sprint from the Christmas parade to the high school cafeteria where he will be available to pose with children. Harwood will take complimentary photos and process them on site at no charge, allowing parents to walk away with a memory. As well, parents will be allowed to take photographs and do their own processing.