A float from a previous Electric Light Parade shows the creativity that goes into preparing a float for the parade. This year’s parade on Dec. 1 does not have a theme, leaving all avenues open for making unique floats. [Photo by Murice D. Miller / Moab Sun News]

Editor’s note: This article was updated on Nov. 29 to reflect that the Electric Light Parade is on Saturday, not Friday as originally reported.

What do lights, Santa Claus, hot cocoa and music all have in common? The longstanding Moab traditions of the Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the Electric Light Parade.

On Friday, Nov. 30, the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony is taking place at 5 p.m. at Swanny City Park, 400 N. 100 West.

The Electric Light Parade begins on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m.

Moab City Mayor Emily Niehaus will give a short speech at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony regarding this community tradition, and then the Austrian pine tree will be lighted to kick-off the Christmas festivities.

While the tree lighting is the main feature of the ceremony, several community music ensembles will be performing.

The ensembles include Grand County’s high school and middle school choirs, the middle school strings band, the Moab Charter School choir and a performance by David Olsen. Each ensemble will perform its own setlist to make the festivities a unique and merry celebration.

Not only will there be hot cocoa and cookies for community members to enjoy, but Santa Claus is expected to be at the ceremony, and he will greet and talk to any children who want to speak with him.

Following the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the Electric Light Parade — Moab’s Christmas event of the year — will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1. Organizers and participants will begin lining up for the parade at 5:45 p.m.

This year’s parade will not have a theme, unlike past years.

“This year we wanted to — rather than telling everyone how to decorate their float — let everyone use their own imagination to represent themselves,” said Laici Shumway, director of the Moab Chamber of Commerce. “There will still be a float winner who will receive the traveling trophy for year.”

The most creatively decorated float wins the Traveling Trophy. Last year’s winner, The Twisted Jeeps, will hand the trophy over to this year’s best float winner, and it will be held by them until next year’s parade.

Moab resident Liz Holland said that despite the cold weather, her family is not deterred. Holland, who works at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC), said her family looks forward to the parade each year.

“My kids’ favorite part is going down to watch the parade and getting hot chocolate and we meet up with all their friends in front of the same store every single year,” Holland said. “They run and get hot chocolate and cookies and it’s after going to the MARC earlier in the day to see Santa and it all kind of ties into one big Christmas explosion for them, all in one day.”

The Moab Chamber of Commerce is still accepting applicants for the parade, which can be obtained both in person and online. Shumway urges potential floats to register to keep the parade organized and running smoothly.

“The more forms we get, the more smoothly the parade will go,” Shumway said. “Everyone is welcome to do a float, it’s first-come first-serve on the day of the parade.”

KCYN radio will be announcing the parade from the Moab Information Center (MIC) at the corner of Main and Center. Hot cocoa and cookies will be available at the Cocoa Shack at the MIC.

The parade will include the Moab Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year and Citizen of the Year, and not to be missed, Santa Claus is bringing up the end of the parade. Look for Santa Claus to be on a fire truck.

As a part of the tradition, all local businesses and residents are encourage to decorate their storefronts and homes with lights and decorations.

“We would love for businesses to decorate their windows and light up the street if that’s something they want to participate in,” Shumway said. “The Moab Information Center will be all lit up like previous years.”

Moab events coinciding with the Electric Light Parade will include holiday arts and crafts fairs and a gingerbread house competition. The Moab Chamber of Commerce encourages the community to attend these events to kick off the Christmas season with their friends and neighbors.

“It’s just a great time for the community to come together and celebrate the holidays,” said Shumway. “It’s a historic, small-town tradition that everyone enjoys, and we’re hoping we can keep carrying it on and make it something people enjoy doing and want to do again and again.”


Festivities include parade, Santa Claus and school choirs

When: Saturday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m.

Where: Downtown Moab

More info: The parade will be announced from the Moab Information Center at the corner of Main and Center.

Cost: Free

When: Friday, Nov. 30, at 5 p.m.

Where: Swanny City Park, 400 N. 100 West

Cost: Free

“It’s a historic, small-town tradition that everyone enjoys, and we’re hoping we can keep carrying it on and make it something people enjoy doing and want to do again and again.”