By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

December has arrived and that means the return of one of the best family-oriented holiday activities in Southeast Texas.

The Kiwanis Club of Orange will present the 67th Annual Orange Christmas Parade beginning at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4 through the streets of Orange for area residents. This year’s parade is being held in honor of the late Ben Culpepper Jr., a long-time member of the Kiwanis Club of Orange and respected businessman of the community.

According to Johnny Trahan of the Kiwanis Club of Orange, the additions made to this year’s event are hopefully the start of a new tradition.

“The Kiwanis Club added these extra activities this year because we want it to be more than just a parade,” Trahan said. “We want it to be a downtown event, like it used to be many years ago. It will be like a small festival this year, complete with food like pizza and Larry David’s famous gumbo.”

The floats and other participating vehicles, as well as bands and dance teams, will line-up in the old Sears parking lot  along MacArthur Drive and then travel east to Green Avenue and into downtown Orange. The parade will conclude at the intersection of Fifth Street. Guests may line-up along the route from its originating point to its ending point.

Originally sponsored by the Orange Jaycees, the Kiwanis Club of Orange has sponsored the event since 2013. As always, the annual parade will feature dozens of entries which are decorated in lights to celebrate the holiday season.

Entrants are classified into three categories, which includes commerical, non-profit and schools, and awards will be presented in each category. Also, there will be a Judges Choice award and a Grand Marshall’s Choice award presented.

This year’s Grand Marshall is Judge Courtney Arkeen of the Orange County 128th District Court. Arkeen is a graduate of Orangefield High School and a current resident of Bridge City.

This year’s event have been expanded to include pre-parade activities for children, such as face-painting, bounce houses and ornament making at a location onn Seventh Street beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Following the parade, Santa Claus will reportedly take time out of his schedule to visit with children who need to make last minute additions to their Christmas wish lists.

“We hope it works well and grows each year,” Trahan added. “We want it to become bigger and better each year and have it become like our own little version of Dickens on the Strand (in Galveston).”

A new addition to this year’s parade will be a Christmas Laser Show, which is being presented by the Lutcher Theater. The laser light show will be held at Stark Park, which is along Green Avenue in front of the Lutcher Theater.

“We are so excited to welcome back Tim Walsh and Laser Spectacles, Inc. for this Christmas-themed laser show,” said Lynae Sanford of the Lutcher Theater. “Laser Spectacles did both of our laser shows during both Bassmaster Elite Series and we had such a great turnout each time. We are really looking forward to this event.”

Sanford said the laser show will be projected onto the side of Stark Museum of Art building directly across from Stark Park on Green Avenue, so guests will be able to view the show and enjoy activities following it.

Events following the laser light extravaganza will include the announcement of winners of the 67th annual Orange Christmas Parade at 8:30 p.m., near the judges stand at City Hall. This will be followed by the official Christmas tree lighting by Mayor Jimmy Sims, also at City Hall.

Find the Kiwanis Club of Orange, Tx official Facebook page for more information on the organization and updates on the parade.