Western Lincoln Countyâ€™s famous Cat Square Parade has undergone slight changes this year as it seeks to attract thousands of local residents to its 37th annual event.
The parade committee has ordered that all entries fill out a free registration form prior to inclusion into the holiday procession, according to committee member Jamie Houser.
All ATV and horse entries are each required to pay a $1 entry fee, he said. However, the fee is nothing new.
Houser said the mandateâ€™s been enforced for at least the last 10 years.
Both parade officials and local law enforcement have been working together to organize the parade in a way that allows the event to promote community safety, above all else.
As a result, changes to this yearâ€™s parade were imposed chiefly for safety reasons, officials said.
â€œIt is our main goal to have a safe and family-friendly atmosphere,â€ Houser said in a Sheriffâ€™s Office press release.
Committee members do not expect the new parade policy to alter the eventâ€™s much-anticipated â€œfun and family-orientedâ€ atmosphere in any way.
In addition, due to significant traffic congestion thatâ€™s occurred in years past, deputies and troopers with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol will be on-hand â€œat closer intervalsâ€ along this yearâ€™s parade route, authorities said.
Authorities noted that Dan Rhyne Road is the staging area for parade horses. Individuals are encouraged to use Sam Houser Road and Zur Leonard Road to access the staging area.
â€œWe take pride in keeping it a simple country parade,â€ Houser said.
He also revealed that in past years parade officials have had some trouble getting a few of the horses to cooperate. Sometimes the animals are difficult to control, walking through peopleâ€™s yards, he noted.
Therefore, the registration form allows officials to maintain a name and contact for each entry so that unruly horses or other parade entries can be notified, if necessary.
The Cat Square Parade was first established in 1974 from an idea originated by Trinity Lutheran Churchâ€™s youth group. Houser said the youth wanted to do something special for the Vale community.
Several local businesses and churches are also set to sponsor entries at this yearâ€™s parade.
The parade starts at 2 p.m. on Dec. 10. Lineup starts at 1 p.m. on Zur Leonard Road.
Registration Forms can be picked up from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Cat Square Superette in Vale. The store is also taking nominations for mayor of Cat Square along with â€œLittle Missâ€ and â€œMiss Cat Square.â€ Parade forms include a map of parade route and staging area.
â€œI am thankful for the great work of the parade committee,â€ Sheriff David Carpenter said. â€œWe are looking forward to the start of a wonderful Christmas.â€
Houser pointed out that the parade committeeâ€™s main goal for the event remains simpleâ€”Â to â€œcelebrate the season and celebrate the reason.â€