Christmas season begins with annual Raleigh parade

Posted November 22, 2013
Updated November 23, 2013

— Almost 50,000 people packed downtown Raleigh streets Saturday morning for the 69th annual WRAL-TV Raleigh Christmas Parade. 

Raleigh's parade, presented by Shop Local Raleigh, is presented every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It's the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season in the Triangle. 

2013 WRAL-TV Raleigh Christmas Parade 2013 WRAL-TV Raleigh Christmas Parade

The parade stepped off at 9:30 a.m. from the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s Street. The 1.2 mile route took bands, floats and marchers east on Hillsborough Street, south at the Capitol on Salisbury Street, east on Morgan and down Fayetteville Street past rows of cheering, often-costumed fans.

After an overnight shower, the weather cleared in time for the parade and temperatures in the 50s kept just a bit of autumn chill in the air.

The 2013 edition of the parade featured more than 115 entries, including fantastic floats, super-sized balloons, marching bands, entertainers, specialty vehicles and that special North Pole visitor, Santa Claus.

Many of those who attended decked out in Christmas colors, some wearing Santa hats or other holiday garb. Dancers performed their routines with holiday wreaths or packages, and marching bands moved to the tune of Christmas carols.

Along the route and at home, the audience shared photos and holiday traditions on Twitter, using the hashtag #WRALparade.

The grand marshal was NC State College of Design professor Justin LeBlanc from TV’s hit show "Project Runway."

WRAL-TV morning news personalities Bill Leslie, Kelcey Carlson and Elizabeth Gardner hosted the festivities on television and 



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  • emaleth Nov 25, 2013

    I think it's sad that the season of Thanksgiving is becoming a non-event as retailers and the media push the idea of an early Christmas season. Christmas parades should not be put on prior to Thanksgiving. And it's not the Christmas season - not yet. Advent starts this Sunday. I don't know about you, but I'm not done being thankful yet.

  • pagewood Nov 25, 2013

    Got to be one of the worst parades I ever started watching, did not finish, couldn't becaused it was very disorganized and very biased, anyone that didn't noticed you are very blind indeed

  • cynda-ur-way Nov 25, 2013

    I would also love to see it moved back to night time. Im not sure when it changed but older folks I know say it was so much better.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Nov 25, 2013

    I think moving the parade start time from morning to evening is a super idea. Perhaps it could run from around 4 - 6 PM, catching the warmest part of a late November afternoon, and with sundown coming by around 5 PM, we'd get the excitement of bright lights, and the kiddies could be home for a late supper.

    Another suggestion: I'd love to see the local colleges get involved in the event. In my own hometown, a mid-western city, the college bands, cheerleaders, and dance teams always came at the end of the parade, and were the big highlight that everyone waited for, with each college band vying for the biggest cheers from the crowd.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Nov 25, 2013

    "Always nice to have a Christmas parade prior to Thanksgiving." - spunkyisbackagain

    :-) I guess they have to get us into spending mode fast this year, with only 25 shopping days until Christmas.

    "I remember going to the parade when it was held at night. The lights were so beautiful." - ims1924

    I didn't know about that. It sounds like a great idea!

    "Raleigh now is nearly as violent as Durham." - ims1924

    What an absurd comment. American society has always had a streak of rough and sometimes dangerous behavior, but Raleigh is, by any reasonable measurement, an amazingly safe city to visit or live in. And the RPD is an excellent, high-quality team.

  • VW girl 2013 Nov 25, 2013

    I agree that the parade is held too early in the season, but I do still try to attend, as it is so much fun to see the look on my grand-daughter's face. This year, she danced nonstop to all the wonderful music the bands were playing! And, even though this is her 2nd Christmas parade, she is only 14 months old, so this is her first real Christmas with Santa! She just kept on waving at him! :)

  • ims1924 Nov 25, 2013

    I remember going to the parade when it was held at night. The lights were so beautiful. I recall reading a newspaper article about the reasons it was changed to the day time. It read that there were too many assaults and robberies occurring and it was no longer safe to continue the parade at night. Raleigh now is nearly as violent as Durham.

  • spunkyisbackagain Nov 25, 2013

    Always nice to have a Christmas parade prior to Thanksgiving.