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Charlotte’s Thanksgiving Parade will have new look this year

You’ll see a lot more singing and dancing at this year’s Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade in Charlotte, organizers say.

And if you choose to see it in person, you’ll need to be uptown a half-hour earlier than past years.

Charlotte Center City Partners, which has taken over the role of organizing the city’s 67-year-old parade, says it is altering the format of the event this year, adding live entertainment in front of the main review stand. Organizers say this year’s parade will look more like the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

“It won’t be on that scale this year, but it’s the same concept,” says Moira Quinn, senior vice president of communications for Charlotte City Center Partners.

The parade had a near-death experience last summer when organizers couldn’t find a sponsor to replace Belk, which had underwritten the event in recent years. Carolinas Carrousel, the longtime organizer, announced in midsummer that the parade would not take place in 2013. But Novant Health stepped up in August as primary sponsor, and Charlotte Center City Partners went into overdrive to organize the parade in a relatively short time frame.

The performances will take place in front of the Levine Center for the Arts on South Tryon Street, near the end of the parade route.

“We’re talking about dance teams and individual singers and performers,” says Robert Krumbine, senior vice president of events with Charlotte Center City Partners. “The reigning Miss North Carolina will perform. And we have a few surprise announcements coming. This will be a very different event.”

Organizers stress that favorites from years past, including more than a dozen high school marching bands, will remain a part of the Thanksgiving parade.

The event will begin at 9:30 a.m., a half-hour earlier than in the past. Quinn said the new start time will give spectators a chance to get home earlier, and it will provide the television crew more time for editing before the 1 p.m. replay on Charlotte’s WBTV.

Quinn and Krumbine say there remains a need for volunteers. They have asked for 500 volunteers, and Krumbine says he’s not only looking for people for cleanup duties.

“We are having more inflatables, more balloons,” he says. “That means we need more people to help us pull them. We’re looking at new ways of pulling those balloons – maybe even with people on bicycles.”

Volunteers will have to attend a short training session on the weekend of Nov. 23-24. Parade organizers say they will schedule a number of different times for the sessions.

Volunteers can register online at http://tiny.cc./NovantParade2013.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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