‘Dashing Through Dover’ to bring a parade of lights to community

DOVER — Katie Christiansen’s daughter Mackenzie looked at her a few days ago and told her, “Christmas lights make people smile.”

Just those five words were enough to warm Mrs. Christiansen’s heart and let her know that she and her brother Sean were doing the right thing in organizing a new event called “Dashing Through Dover,” a COVID-19-safe parade in which a long line of holiday-decorated vehicles will make their way through neighborhoods throughout the capital city starting at 4:30 Saturday evening.

Sean and Katie Christiansen, the son and daughter of Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen, noted that there have been several drive-by birthday parties throughout the coronavirus pandemic, so why not have a similar event — but holiday-themed — that is rumored to have Santa Claus in the last vehicle in the parade, which already has nearly 50 participants.

“The idea came about due to the COVID-19 pandemic changing so many things and how life once was,” Katie Christiansen said. “We knew that the normal tradition of people gathering and lining Loockerman Street in downtown Dover to see the lights and sounds of the Christmas season was going to have to be canceled as there was no safe logical way to make it happen.

“Then an idea came to my mind. I thought if others can pull off the COVID birthday drive-by parades, why can’t we do the same just with a Christmas twist? I discussed the idea with my brother, and we decided that COVID or no COVID we had to find a way to make this parade happen. We were determined and with less time than in years past, we got to working on a plan. So instead of spectators gathering on Loockerman Street we decided to bring a parade of lights to them.”

She said she could not have pulled off the planning for the event without her brother, who has helped her with several parades through downtown Dover in the past, as well as the men and women of the Dover Police Department and others who have volunteered their services.

The parade is scheduled to wind through the main roads in neighborhoods and streets throughout Dover’s city limits on Saturday evening. The route can be found on the “Dashing Through Dover Parade” Facebook page.

The Christiansens have also set up a real-time parade tracking app where those who want to see the location of the parade can see the parade’s exact whereabouts. People can download the free app “Glympse” on their smartphone or smart device and search public tag DashingThroughDover (no spaces) to follow the parade.

Mrs. Christiansen acknowledged the parade won’t be able to go down every street within the city limits simply due to time constraints, “but we are sure going to do our best.”

There will be some obvious changes from a non-pandemic traditional parade, such as no bands or floats – but a whole lot of vehicles decked out in holiday lights with Christmas carols playing from them.

“We even hear Santa may be making an appearance at the end of the procession thanks to our friends at the Dover Fire Department,” said Mrs. Christiansen. “Unlike in years past, due to COVID-19, nothing will be thrown from vehicles such as candy or candy canes. We also want to let those who may have Dover addresses but live in places such as Camden or Cheswold that we are only driving through major roads in neighborhoods and streets within the city limits of Dover.

“We hope in 2021 we can get back to parading on Loockerman Street where we can have everyone from Dover and surrounding communities join us once again.”

The Christiansens’ goals are to give the Dover community a chance to mentally escape the COVID-19 pandemic and celebrate each other and the holiday season — if only for a couple of hours.

“COVID-19 has sure changed so many things in our everyday norm,” Mrs. Christiansen said. “As one of the volunteer organizers for the parade for the last couple of years, I could not let the magic of Christmas just disappear. Everyone could use a little brightness in their lives, especially right now — and that is our goal for Saturday.

“It’s our first time doing something like this. There may be literal bumps in the road, but we are going to give it our all and hope the citizens of Dover will join us by coming outside, and in accordance with the CDC and the state of Delaware Department of Health, practice social distancing and wear their masks as we go dashing through Dover.”

She did note that the upcoming parade was put together by citizen volunteers who wanted to make sure they bring some sort of normalcy to the city.

“My hope and wish for 2021 is a happier and healthier new year for all and we look forward to getting back to parading on Loockerman Street and gathering as an entire community once again,” Mrs. Christiansen said.

Reach Mike Finney at 741-8230 or mfinney@newszap.com.