Santa’s Workshop rests in a small, brown warehouse off of Remount Road. Santa’s not there — yet.
Inside, you’ll find Charlotte Center City Partners Chief Creative Officer (great title) Robert Krumbine and his team toiling away, getting everything ready for this year’s Charlotte Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Krumbine and his team of three, plus a handful of contractors, started working in the warehouse in July, about four months before the Nov. 26 parade.
Center City Partners took over the parade in 2013. Krumbine believes that parade, which was founded in 1947, deserves to be just as grand and special as those in other big cities, including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City.
“My aspiration is to take this to the absolute highest level that anyone could aspire to,” Krumbine said. “I’m not going to give up. I want CBS television … to broadcast this right against Macy’s. I’m ready … I know for a fact that I can put on a show as good if I had the resources to do it. … There’s no fear.”
This year’s parade will have 120 units, including 17 marching bands and 24 floats.
The parade now features four large floats (barring a last-minute addition): the cornucopia, the bakery, the sleigh wash, where Mrs. Claus rides, and Santa’s Workshop, where Santa rides.
Want to get your own massive float? You have to become a presenting sponsor, and it’ll cost you — it costs $30-$100K to build a float, Krumbine said.
All four big floats sit in the warehouse now. Workers spend the day repairing and reconstructing the wood-and-molded-styrofoam creations. Around the floats, props, inflatables for smaller floats and stray pianos (from the Piano Parking initiative) litter the warehouse floor.
In one corner rests the frames of a Krumbine original creation: “Segwalloons,” a person riding a Segway with a large balloon draped over it.
(Cut to 0:49 of the video below to see them in action.)
Krumbine has big ideas for this parade, but he won’t share all of them just yet. One he would share: This year there will be an app to allow parade-goers to interact with the procession.
“Younger folks like you guys, I would guess (a parade) would not be on your top 10 list,” Krumbine said. “And yet there’s something about them that’s really a lot of fun. … So we’ve created a way to interact with the parade. … We’re really excited about that.”
He can’t pull the parade off without a lot of help. Krumbine hopes to have 1,000 volunteers this year, doing everything from dressing up in costumes, holding onto helium balloons, marshaling and more. Head over to paradevolunteer.com to register.
While I was visiting, a roof was placed atop Santa’s Workshop, getting it one step closer to showtime. A sign reading “20 1/2 days until Christmas” rested nearby.
Oh, and why is Santa in his workshop and not riding his sleigh behind a bunch of reindeer, like in other parades? Krumbine is a purist.
“I’m like a Halloween/Christmas guy,” he said. “You could put me in hibernation for the rest of the year, bring me out for those two.
“So there was no way that I was going to have Santa in a sleigh with reindeer because it doesn’t make any sense to me. … That’s not Santa at Thanksgiving. We’re not ready for that yet. … So we built a workshop for him.”
Corey Inscoe is editor of CharlotteFive and marched in many parades during his high school and college marching band days. The sousaphone can get heavy after a few miles. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyInscoe.