Through the Years

About the Parade

The parade originally started in 1919 as the Wurzburg’s Santa Clause Parade on Campau Square. The parade was designed to bring people downtown for a kickoff to the holiday shopping. Seeking new leadership, the parade was taken over by the Grand Rapids Junior Chamber (formerly the Grand Rapids Jaycees). Of note, our most well-known member to date is the late great President Gerald R. Ford. The Junior Chamber has insured that the parade is a great community event with leadership and volunteer opportunities.

From 2010 – 2019, title sponsor Art Van Furniture came on board, adding large scale attractions and a partnership with WoodTV8 to host the event on live television. Today the parade is the 2nd largest in the state of Michigan, competing against Detroit’s Thanksgiving parade.

Rebranding in 2022 as the Grand Rapids Santa Parade, the Grand Rapids Junior Chamber is excited to carry on the legacy. Thanks to the generous title sponsorship of Gentex Corporation, as of September 23rd, 2022 the 101st Santa Parade is now the Gentex Santa Parade! 

Don't Miss it!

Iconic Santa Claus Float

The parade’s most sought after entry, Santa Claus, will be flying into West Michigan in style! Santa will ride in the historic Jaycee’s sleigh that dates back to the 1950s, the sleigh will soar Santa over snow covered Grand River and the iconic Blue Bridge.

Frequently Asked Questions


No, while we work with the City of GR for permits and applications, the parade is put on solely by the Grand Rapids Junior Chamber (GRJC) and our partners.  As our largest fundraiser, our members volunteer their time while additionally working full-time. We are so thankful for the dedication of our Santa Parade committee members!

Entrant costs vary depending on type. Please see the chart below:

$0 – MilitaryPolice/Fire/EMT, etc.

$0 – High School Marching Band

$50 – College Marching Band

$75 – Non-Profit Organization

$250 – Corporate Level 1

$375 – Corporate Level 2 (Includes 4 VIP lounge tickets)

$525 – Corporate Level 3 (Includes 4 VIP lounge tickets & company logo on santaparadegr.com)

All funds are reinvested directly back into the GRJC to help us with our annual programming efforts which include many other community projects such as the Holiday Shopping Tour as well as professional development opportunities like scholarships to attend conferences and having guest speakers brought into workshops.

No, Entrants must be approved and adhere to the Entrant Guidelines.

There are many ways to get involved in the parade as an entrant, marching band, activity partner, sponsor, or volunteer. More information can be found on our website or by contacting the Santa Parade Committee through our website contact form.

Please click here for this years’ parade route maps.

The Junior Chamber is a worldwide community of young active citizens ages 18-40 who share the belief that in order to create positive change, we must take collective action to improve ourselves and the world around us. Engaging in activities ranging from community development to international projects, members demonstrate their social responsibility and improve themselves through participation, leadership, and action.


Our goal is to provide leadership training through community service. By chairing a local project, a young person can practice organization, delegation, time and resource management, public relations, and motivational skills. The Jaycees, which members are often referred to as, also offer training programs, at little to no cost to the member, that teach these skills. Even when a project does not mean its goals, members are considered to have learned from the experience, not consider it as a failure.


For more information check out our local chapter website.

Parking is available in many locations downtown within walking distance to the parade route. Please find locations here.