CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The 2022 Champaign Parade of Lights announced its grand marshal. Joe DeLuce, the founder of the Parade of Lights and Executive Director of the Champaign Park District, was selected to lead the annual event.

DeLuce started the parade in 2001 and has served Champaign communities through the park district for over 25 years. Xander Hazel, Executive Director of the Champaign Center Partnership, believes DeLuce was “an ideal pick for the grand marshal this year.”

The idea of the Parade of Lights emerged when DeLuce lived in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He recalled that he and his wife loved seeing all the boats lit up at the holiday parade every year.

“We thought it would be great to do that here in Champaign and make it a festive holiday event at night,” DeLuce said.

Chelsea Norton, Marketing Director at the Champaign Park District, nominated DeLuce as the grand marshal and spoke highly of his work.

“More than anything, Joe’s contribution to the Champaign Park District and its community, is his passion and unwavering commitment to his staff and the field of parks and recreation,” Norton stated in her nomination.

DeLuce is currently on the Illinois Association of Park District’s Joint Legislative Committee and recently received the Joe Bannon Practitioner Award from the University of Illinois. He is married to Jayne Turpin DeLuce and has two children. DeLuce plans to retire from the park district at the end of this year and embark on trips with his wife.

With the theme of “Island of Misfit Toys,” the 2022 Champaign Center Parade of Lights will take place in downtown Champaign on Saturday, Nov. 26. The parade kicks off at 6 p.m., while there will be programming beginning at 3:00 p.m. with Visits with Santa at Big Grove Tavern, horse and carriage rides and entertainment.

Participants can expect to make a day of it by enjoying holiday festivities and shopping for local gifts on Small Business Saturday.