Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?

Nov. 4; Santa arrived at the mall. Nov. 18; downtown businesses will begin the Holiday Open House. Nov. 20; Meridian hosts its annual Christmas parade, all of this even before Thanksgiving on Nov. 25.

While some might argue that this is just too early to begin activities for Christmas, organizers of each event say the dates were set for a good reason.

"We knew we wanted to move it (the parade) to a Saturday, and if we moved it to the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I think we would've gotten hung because that's the big deer hunting day and the big shopping day," said Michelle Pearson of the Meridian Downtown Association.

Pearson also said that moving the parade up will ensure that volunteers for it do not have to work it on Thanksgiving, something which has happened in the past.

Meanwhile, all say economics has had some bearing on the decisions.

"We wanted to allow downtown businesses to have six full weeks of shopping opportunities for people to come in and do business downtown," said Lisa Shoemaker of the Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau.

Given that economics is at least some of the motive, officials at Bonita Lakes Mall said the public is responding in a positive way. Compared to this time a year ago, officials say sales at the mall are up by at least 16 percent.

"You know, with the election behind us and the economy on the upswing, I believe that people are encouraging us to open our doors and let the holiday season begin a little bit earlier," said Bonita Lakes Mall's Tommy White. "So, we're just here to meet the needs of the community."