Christmas Parade float


The 45th Annual Downtown Appleton Christmas Parade will be Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. This year's theme is "A Night of Family Traditions."

The Parade will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the corner of State St. and College Ave. It will head east on College Ave. to Drew St.

Christmas Parade float 

The Appleton Downtown Christmas Parade is the largest nighttime parade in the Midwest. Last year's parade drew about 80,000 spectators to Downtown Appleton.

Parade Route

The parade begins at State Street and College Avenue in downtown Appleton and travels east on College Avenue to Drew Street. See map.  


Television Schedule

Each year, over 80,000 spectators attend the Annual Downtown Appleton Christmas Parade. This year’s parade will be televised live by WFRV-TV from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Local Channel 5 will also videotape the parade for rebroadcast on Saturday, Nov. 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and Friday, Dec. 25 from 5:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.

WFRV-TV Local 5


Before the Parade

Kiwanis International, 100 YearsThe Appleton Fox Cities Kiwanis club will be hosting the annual Appleton tree lighting ceremony at City Park in Appleton on Tuesday November 24, from 4:30-6:00 pm. This event, which has traditionally been held after the Christmas parade, has been moved to before the parade to help kick off the evening’s festivities. For more information, please call John Polansky at 920 284-4345 or email

Families are encouraged to come to City Park to join in the fun and enjoy the music, cookie decorating for the kids, and free candy canes and hand warmers.

The event will wrap-up with the lighting of the tree at 5:55 pm by students from Badger Elementary. With the parade starting at 7:00 pm this year, families will have time to attend the pre-parade tree lighting festivities and still have plenty of time to see the parade.

The Santa Scamper Run

The Santa Scamper run
Race Start: 6:25 p.m. at corner of State Street & College Avenue — more information on the Santa Scamper webpage.
The 1-mile run starts about 1/2 hour prior to the 45th Annual Downtown Appleton Christmas Parade and proceeds down College to Drew St., finishing at Jones Park. No roller blades. No pets please. Register for the scamper at



Our 2015 Parade Marshal is Walter S. Rugland


Grand Marshal Walter S. RuglandWalter S. Rugland is retired Executive Vice President, Thrivent Financial. After a lengthy career in the East with an international consulting firm, with his family he moved to Appleton from Hartford, Connecticut in 1998.
Walt has been recognized in Appleton with Rotary‘s Heeter Award, the annual Walter L. Rugland Community Service Award (named after his late father), and the Appleton West Hall of Fame. He served 12 years as secretary/treasurer of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. He serves as a Director of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, the Fox Cities Building for the Arts, the Appleton Boychoir, and the Wisconsin Historical Society. He is past Chairman of The Board of the ThedaCare Health System, the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, and the Community Blood Center. Since 2010 he has had a major commitment to realization of a full functioning convention facility in the Fox Cities, leading the Fox Cities Exhibition Center organization.
Walt graduated from Appleton High School, and received a bachelor’s degree from Luther College and an Actuarial Science MBA from the University of Michigan. He has served his profession as president of the Society of Actuaries and the International Actuarial Association.



Parade Participation

Limit on participants. Due to the unpredictable weather this time of year, we must limit the parade to 70 units. The Appleton Downtown Christmas Parade has become so popular that we cannot always accommodate everyone who wishes to enter. Regardless, we encourage all entries and attempt to include as many as possible. Units are strongly encouraged (but not required) to use the theme "A Night of Family Traditions." Several guidelines have been set to help the selection committee determine final entries. They are as follows:

1.  Applicants will be accepted in the following commercial
and non-commercial categories:

    a)   Floats
    b)   Bands
    c)   Animals (including carriages, horse-drawn vehicles
          and animal walking units)
    d)   Vehicles (single units, including cars, trucks, buses, etc.)
    e)   Walking Units
2.  All entries must be of a non-commercial Christmas theme and be decorated accordingly. This parade is designed to entertain families, especially children. It is not a commercial endeavor. The City of Appleton Parade Committee will eliminate any entry not in compliance. Therefore, floats are encouraged to display their name or sponsor on the float in a non-commercial manner.
3.  No entry can display Santa Claus or Mrs. Claus. The City of Appleton Parade Committee will provide the Santa and Mrs. Claus. (More than one Santa confuses the children.)

Parade Policies

The parade committee does not allow anything to be thrown or handed to spectators on the sidelines. We must take this stance for safety purposes and any group in violation may be removed from the parade list in the following years. This rule will be strictly enforced. If you have questions, please use the links under Contacts below.

Appleton Common Council Parade Policy: No person or object may be used to reserve a location along the College Avenue parade route at any time prior to noon on the day of the Christmas Parade. Persons may place items along the route after noon of the day of the parade only if they remain with those items.


US Army band

As is tradition, three traveling trophies will be awarded to the best entries in the following categories:

  1. The Appleton Downtown
    Inc. Trophy

    Best Commercial Entry
  2. The Christmas Parade Trophy
    Best Non-Commercial Entry
  3. The Bernie Pearlman
    Memorial Trophy

    Best Entry "In the Eyes of a Child"


Please contact Greg Otis or Djuanna Hugdahl at the ADI Office at (920) 954-9112 if you have other questions about the Downtown Appleton Christmas Parade. Information is also available at and at Channel 5




Photo credits...

Photos courtesy of Jeff Lindsey and Appleton Downtown Inc.

© 2015 Appleton Downtown Christmas Parade Committee