Christmas season begins with annual Raleigh parade
Posted November 22, 2013
Updated November 23, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.
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 WRAL.com.