Each year The Festival of Lights parade provides a magical evening of bright lights, festive music, holiday spirit, and memories your family will cherish forever. Held in downtown Rapid City on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, this spectacular event is made possible by volunteers, businesses and organizations throughout the community.
The Festival of Lights Parade has become a tradition that family and friends look forward to each year. Connie Olson, event chair, said, “The parade marks the official start of the Christmas season.” A member of the Leadership Rapid City Class of 2008, Olson added, “I have the deepest appreciation for Carol Brown, Sue McCormick, and the Leadership Rapid City Class of 1996 for their vision, stamina, and commitment to taking on such a monumental task as the Festival of Lights parade. What an amazing gift they have given to our city! They fine-tuned the event, making it easy to step in and take over much of the responsibility of leading this parade when they were ready to retire as event chairs.”
The Festival of Lights Parade brings over 30,000 people to downtown Rapid City for a dazzling nighttime event. Featuring glowing floats covered in thousands of lights, horse-drawn carriages, animated scenes on flatbed trucks, sparkling vehicles, animals adorned in holiday décor and so much more! The Parade has earned its reputation as the premier winter event in SD.
Over the years, the parade has grown to include nearly 100 different entries from local businesses, civic groups, churches, and friends. The parade provides a terrific opportunity to share in the fun and show off some holiday spirit! Huge crowds and a televised broadcast make the event exciting for participants and viewers, young and old.
From what started as a project of the Leadership Rapid City Class of 1996, and took two years to organize and secure funding, the Festival of Lights Parade has been a success story that continues to draw people downtown, at night, in the cold of winter, for a joyful and exhilarating celebration. The vision and effort put forth by the LRC Class of 1996, including the co-founders of the event, Sue McCormick and Carol Brown, established the centerpiece of our community’s holiday celebrations and sparked similar light parades throughout many Black Hills communities. In 2013, Connie Olson, member of the LRC Class of 2008 stepped up to chair the event. We are sure the parade will continue to be an essential part of our community’s holiday traditions.