LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 20, 2016) – The days are shorter and the nights are colder; it can only mean one thing. It is time for the Annual Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade to march through Little Rock.
On Saturday, December 3, gather your family and friends to see Santa and all his friends, sponsored by the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB).
Serving as this year’s Grand Marshal is 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist and McAlmont native Jeff Henderson.
"Thank you for this opportunity to be the Grand Marshal for the 2016 Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade. This is something that I would have never dreamed of,” Henderson said. “As a little boy growing up in McAlmont, I would remember having my Mom take my sisters and me to the Christmas parades and I loved the feelings I felt watching the different people and floats that were involved with the parade. So to be a part of this is a great honor and I am sure those feelings will come rushing back to me. So I thank you again for this opportunity."
As a Sylvan Hill Bear, Henderson represented his school well in 2007, finishing first in long jump at the 6A State Championships, followed by another first place finish at the Meet of Champions.
While attending Hinds Community College in Raymond, MS., Henderson jumped and sprinted his way to three NJAAC Division 1 championship titles. In 2008, he was named the indoor and outdoor national champion in long jump, and outdoor national champion in the 100-meter-dash. In 2009, he remained the outdoor national champion in long jump and added 4x100-meter-relay to his résumé.
Over the next seven years, Henderson earned more medals and championship titles and achieved longer jumps on his way to winning the gold in Rio de Janeiro on August 13 at the 2016 Summer Olympics, dedicating his win to his mother who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Along with being a world-renowned Olympic athlete sponsored by ADIDAS and training for the 2020 Tokyo Games, Henderson remains involved in his community through work with the Jacksonville Community Center, the Arkansas Alzheimer’s Association, and the all-girls youth basketball team “The Hustle Hearts.”
Beginning at Second and Broadway, the Holiday parade will start at 3:00 p.m. and travel south on Broadway, turn west onto Capitol Avenue and end at the Arkansas State Capitol. The lighting and fireworks display will follow at dark, or approximately 6 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.
Henderson will join Santa, Rudy the Reindeer and many more of their friends for this year’s highly anticipated holiday parade. Bring your camera and kids to watch decorated floats, marching bands, dancing troops, Central Arkansas’s very own Olympic Gold Medalist Jeff Henderson and more make their way through the streets of downtown Little Rock.
School marching bands and non-profit community organizations will again have the opportunity to win cash prizes as part of the parade’s float competition. The band cash prizes will be $1,000 and $500 for first and second places and $1,000, $750 and $500 for the top three winners among non-profit entries. Local guest judges will evaluate the competition and will be positioned along the parade route at an official judge’s stand. Winners of the float and marching band competitions will be posted on www.HolidaysinLittleRock.com after the parade’s conclusion.
“We are thrilled to have Olympic Gold Medalist Jeff Henderson lead our holiday parade. Jeff made Central Arkansas proud during the recent Rio games and we are happy he has agreed to serve as our official Grand Marshal,” Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau President & CEO Gretchen Hall said. "The Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade (coupled with the lighting of the State Capitol) has become a much-anticipated family tradition. We welcome Jeff, his family, and his friends to lead the parade route. We hope to see everyone come out and enjoy the floats and special guests including Santa himself."