By Joe Earle
joeearle@reporternewspapers.net

Dunwoody’s annual Christmas parade and tree lighting returns this month, but its organizers expect Light Up Dunwoody to be a bit smaller to-do than it has been in some recent years.

“We decided this year to scale it back and move it back to its roots,” said Bill Grossman, president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, which sponsors the annual event.

This year, Light Up Dunwoody will take place Nov. 21, starting with a parade that begins about 4:30 p.m., said Renate Herod, chairwoman of the event and a member of the homeowner’s association board of directors. The tree lighting will take place at about 6 p.m., she said.

Grossman cited two reasons the association decided to scale back this year: cost and size.

“A lot of us felt the event was getting very large, harder to manage,” Grossman said. “It is an expensive process.”

In the past, the association has spent as much as $15,000 on the event, he said. This year, they expect to spend less than half that amount.

Light Up Dunwoody started in the early 1990s, when Bill and Peggy Grant and Fran Fuchs decided to light the holly tree at the triangle intersection of Mount Vernon Highway and Ashford Dunwoody Road, according to a brief history of the event written for the homeowners association by Ken Wright, now the city’s mayor. About 10 people attended the lighting, Wright wrote.

In 1995, the association took over the event and a few dozen people attended. The event has grown steadily through the years. Grossman said it reached its peak attendance of 1,500 to 3,000 in 2008. Attendance fell off last year due to bad weather, he said.

The parade kicking off this year’s version of Light Up Dunwoody covers about a half mile, Herod said.

The parade will start in front of the association’s office, go down Dunwoody Village Parkway, turn right onto Mount Vernon Road, then turn right on Chamblee Dunwoody Road and end at the Cheeks-Spruill Farmhouse, better known as the Dunwoody Farmhouse, she said. The Farmhouse is located at 5455 Chamblee Dunwoody Road.

The parade will feature scouts, a fire truck, the Dunwoody High School marching band, the Peachtree Charter Middle School band and an appearance by Santa Claus, she said.

“It’s a really small community parade,” Herod said.

After the parade, participants will be able to sip cocoa and join in carols, she said. Everything is free.

At the Farmhouse, children will be able to present their Christmas wish lists to Santa.