ATLANTA – Join Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Santa Claus and more than 300,000 spectators along the streets of Midtown Atlanta for the Children’s Christmas Parade, the largest Christmas parade in the Southeast. Now in its 39th year, the Children’s Christmas Parade presented by Arrow Exterminators will kick off the holiday season on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
This year, 11-year-old surgery patient Destiny Strickland will serve as the Children’s Christmas Parade Grand Marshal. During a routine pregnancy checkup, doctors noticed abnormalities on her mom’s ultrasound. Destiny was diagnosed with amniotic band syndrome, a medical condition in which the amnion bands affect the development of babies in utero before birth. The condition affected the development of Destiny’s face and caused severe facial clefting, the absence of her left eye and more. To date, Destiny has undergone more than 30 facial reconstructive surgeries with the Children’s plastic surgery team.
Today, Destiny is a happy girl who loves to dance and hopes to inspire by showing the world that different is beautiful. She embraces her uniqueness and uses that as fuel to thrive and accomplish her goals. Her message to kids and adults alike is that appearance is only one aspect of a person and that acceptance is the most powerful gift that someone can give.
Destiny will lead Santa and Mrs. Claus, award-winning high school marching bands, floats, dance groups and giant helium balloons along the parade route. The Children’s mascots, Hope and Will, will also make their way through Midtown as balloons standing more than two stories tall.
Proceeds from the 2019 parade will benefit the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, an eight-story outpatient facility opened in July 2018 that brings together multiple pediatric clinics, programs and specialists under one roof, providing a better way to treat children and teens with chronic diseases and complex care needs. The Center for Advanced Pediatrics is the first new structure completed on the Children’s North Druid Hills campus, a major pediatric medical campus that will also be home to a relocated pediatric hospital, support staff offices, more than 20 acres of greenspace, and miles of walking trails and paths.
The event is free and open to the public. The Children’s Christmas Parade presented by Arrow Exterminators also will air live on WSB-TV Channel 2 (ABC) beginning at 10:30 a.m. WSB-TV anchors Linda Stouffer and Fred Blankenship will provide viewers with live updates along the parade route.
The parade will start at Peachtree Street and 16th Street and continue for 1 mile, ending at Peachtree Street and 5th Street. The route is easily accessible to spectators by MARTA, with the Midtown and Arts Center stations all within walking distance. For more information, visit choa.org/parade.