Steve Wilkinson and grandson Sawyer Wilkinson

With Thanksgiving out of the way, the Cowan Christmas Parade this weekend marks Franklin County’s first big holiday season event.

The parade has a long-standing tradition of being the symbolic kickoff to the Christmas season in Franklin County, and even during a pandemic, the goal is to have this year be no different from any of the others.

This year’s parade, which is always on the first Saturday in December, is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

Staging for the lineup will be held at South Middle School on Davis Street. The official parade route will start at the former Cookie’s Market and continue through town, ending at Cowan Elementary School.

This year’s theme is “Christmas 2020,” and parade organizers would like to honor Cowan’s essential workers and first responders who have been on the frontlines during the pandemic during an unprecedented time.

Steve Wilkinson, lifetime Cowan resident, Cowan Fire Department volunteer and city employee, will serve as this year’s grand marshal.

He is a familiar face in Cowan and is a true essential worker.

Wilkinson started his service to his community in 1984 as a volunteer fireman, and in 1989, he started as a full-time city employee. He now serves as the superintendent of the Cowan Street and Sanitation Department.

The public is encouraged to come out and support the parade and Wilkinson as the grand marshal. A reception will be held in his honor after the parade at Cowan City Hall.

The Christmas in Cowan Committee and the City of Cowan are requesting that parade-goers follow safety precautions to ensure that they and other attendees are protected from the coronavirus threat.

“Hopefully the parade will help to establish some form of normalcy to keep a long-running tradition alive,” the committee said in a published statement.

There is still plenty of time to submit entries for the parade. Entry forms and information may be picked up by going to Cowan City Hall or calling 931-967-7318.

“We hope to see everyone there and share in on the fun and excitement of the 56th annual Cowan Christmas Parade,” the statement said. “The parade with all the sounds and colorful floats, bands, antique cars, tractors, horses and Shriners Tin Lizzie Unit hopes to be your official start of the Christmas season.”