Join Us on Saturday, November 23, 2024 at 10AM
Join Us on Saturday, November 23, 2024 at 10AM


Mount Clemens has been ushering Santa Claus into the heart of Macomb County with an annual parade on the day after Thanksgiving every year since 1975. The first parade wasn't really a parade at all – just a single float that brought the jolly old elf to the front door of Prieh's Department Store, where he held court throughout the holiday shopping season. The following year, the parade was an outgrowth of the area's Bicentennial celebration, and was sponsored by a group of local business leaders. The parade route began at Market and Gratiot and ended at Prieh's, but due to inclement weather, only a small crowd turned out to see the bands, floats, cars and service personnel from Selfridge ANG Base.
In its third year, the parade was sponsored by the Merchants in Action division of the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce. Thirty groups and two high school marching bands once again braved poor weather for the event.
Each succeeding year, the number and variety of parade units increased and so did the spectators. In 1980, crowds lined up to see the famous Clydesdale eight-horse hitch, trademark of the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company, which was sponsored by local beer distributor, Petitpren, Inc. The Clydesdales were popular with parade goers and returned for several succeeding years.
In 1985, under sponsorship of the Mount Clemens Business Association, the parade featured cartoon characters He-Man and Skeletor, and drew one of its largest crowds ever.The parade was adopted by First National Bank in Mount Clemens in 1989, which continued to organize the annual event until 1994, when a new non-profit board, called Metro Macomb Productions, was created by the bank and Mount Clemens General Hospital to produce the Santa Claus Parade. Numerous area businesses served as financial sponsors of the parade under Metro Macomb's stewardship.
More than 50,000 onlookers thronged the parade in 2003, when Macomb County native Matt Shafer, known professionally as the recording artist Uncle Kracker, served as grand marshal.
In 2006, Metro Macomb canceled the parade because of a decline in sponsorships. Within ten days of that announcement, the City of Mount Clemens was flooded with so many calls and offers of assistance that the parade was reinstated. Leading the way was the Mount Clemens Goodfellows, which pledged $10,000, followed by the Mount Clemens Lions Club pledge of $5,000. A parade committee, led by then Mayor Barb Dempsey, was formed to organize the parade and ensure that the children of Macomb County receive a visit from Santa Claus every year. The Parade is a charitable function of the Mount Clemens Foundations.
The new parade committee contacted municipalities from the four corners of the county with an invitation to join in the parade and to bring floats, marching bands and residents. In the first year of the parade becoming county-wide inclusive, three Macomb County communities participated in the parade: Harrison Township, Shelby Township and Clinton Township. These communities sent their leaders, and floats and fire engines, to the delight of children and adults alike.
In 2007, the ninety-unit parade was called Mount Clemens Presents the Macomb County Santa Claus Parade, reflecting Mount Clemens' position as the county seat.
The Planning Committee re-organized again in 2021 after the pandemic canceled the parade in 2020. This group has created a 501(c)(3), the Mount Clemens Parade Company. This group operates the Mount Clemens Santa parade to this day. They created 2 signature fundraisers: Christmas in July and the Nightmare Before Christmas Pub Crawl. Christmas in July features the Stocking Stuffer 10K Elimination Raffle. Click HERE for details.
Special thank you to Deborah Larsen from the Mount Clemens Public Library for providing this history.



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Michelle Weiss

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