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Carolinas' Carrousel, Inc. is committed to enhancing the regional area's community life through quality family-oriented entertainment. The organization’s events officially announce and celebrate the beginning of the holiday season in this region. In addition, it promotes academic and artistic excellence through awards to outstanding area high school students and marching bands. Carolinas' Carrousel, Inc. also exists to offer business, industry and the local citizenry the opportunity to participate in showcasing the region and to encourage excellence in the future leaders of the area.
The Carolinas' Carrousel Parade has evolved over more than six decades as a regional tradition and highlight of the holiday season. Founded in 1947 by four local businessmen to attract holiday shoppers to downtown Charlotte, the Thanksgiving week events have become so much more. The Parade and its ancillary events are produced by an independent, volunteer, non-profit, charitable organization, Carolinas' Carrousel, Inc.
The parade has grown in size and diversity and it is the largest annual gathering of Carolinians, drawing approximately 100,000 spectators each year. In 2011, the television broadcast of the parade was seen by approximately 165,000 people. Over 110 units participated in the parade, including area marching bands, floats sponsored by local organizations and corporations, step and drill teams, entertainers and other specialty units. In October 2008, TravelMuse.com named Charlotte’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as the fourth largest Thanksgiving parade in the United States.
In 1967, Carolinas’ Carrousel, Inc. instituted the Carrousel Scholarship Program. The program awards college scholarships to outstanding students in recognition of academic achievement and community involvement. When the program began, the top scholarship went to the high school senior girl selected as the Carrousel Queen. In 2011, the title was changed to the Carrousel Scholar to better reflect that the program acknowledges achievement and is not a beauty pageant. Scholarships are also given to outstanding marching band students.
- Rebecca Stoddard
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