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Raleigh Parade watcher: ‘It’s worth about a 120-mile drive’

Posted November 17, 2007
Updated November 18, 2008

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— About 60,000 people bundled up as they watched the WRAL-TV Raleigh Christmas parade on Saturday morning. Parade organizers hoped to keep them downtown all day.

Nearly 120 units – including 40 floats and 20 marching bands – volunteered to entertain the crowd. Santa Claus brought the two-hour spectacle to a close and lead parade-goers to an afternoon festival in Moore Square.

James and Nancy Zier drove from Wilmington to see the parade.

"It's worth about a 120-mile drive," Nancy Zier said.

"This is our tradition," James Zier said. "We always hit the Christmas parade. It's almost like New York with the skyscrapers here."

Officials with the merchants' association, which organized the parade, said they hoped the day-long activities would promote downtown businesses.

Owner Sara Coleman said if even a fraction of the parade crowd stopped by, it would mean wonders for her new cupcake shop on Glenwood Avenue.

"It's huge, because it brings people down who might not be in this area regularly," Coleman said. "I think it gives us additional exposure to those customers that we may not see on a regular basis."

John Odom, with the Greater Raleigh Merchants' Association, said parade-goers who linger offer a golden opportunity for downtown merchants.

"They want hot chocolate, coffee and a quick sandwich," he said. "It's a good thing for the restaurants downtown. There's no doubt about it."

WRAL's Bill Leslie said the crowd was thickening hours before the parade started.

"The hot chocolate and coffee sales are booming down here on Hillsborough Street," Leslie said. "It is a wonderful day for a parade, cold but not too cold.

"Five minutes ago, Mayor Meeker jogged by in his running shorts, and said, 'Hey, I feel pretty good.' He's ready for the parade."

WRAL covered the parade from eight camera angles, including aerial shots from the Sky 5 helicopter. Mark Roberts was the street-side producer, and WRAL anchor Lynda Loveland hosted, along with Leslie.

"I'm ready, I'm warm, I've got my thermal underwear on," Leslie said. "Let the parade begin!"


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  • LoveOneAnotherAsChristTaught Nov 19, 2007

    It's too early to be having a Christmas parade or to be putting up decorations.

    I liked the sign posted at Nordstroms that I saw over the weekend. Amidst all the other stores and the mall putting up Christmas decorations, Nordstroms politely stated that "we like to celebrate one holiday at a time" ...so you won't see any decorations until after Thanksgiving.

    In any case, the parade is just proof that economics can drive culture.

  • gunnarbiker Nov 18, 2007

    At $3.09/gallon, there's no parade worth even a 30 mile drive!

  • mrtwinturbo Nov 18, 2007

    I do enjoy a parade just so long as it goes past my home and do not have to go fight traffic to see it

  • IForgot Nov 18, 2007

    did the pilgrams and indians sit around singing christmas songs????? Give Thanksgiving time to come and go before putting up the trees and stuff!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ABar Nov 18, 2007

    And they said, "We always hit the Christmas parade. It's almost like New York with the skyscrapers here." Good Grief, these people don't get out much do they.

  • southern wisdom Nov 18, 2007

    Honestly folks, I believe if someone had been standing on the corner handing out $100 bills some of you would find something to complain about!

  • lovecarolinagutters Nov 18, 2007

    So...all they are relly interested in is getting people downtown to spend their money...it is indeed beginning to look alot like Christmas. UGH.

  • ghimmy47 Nov 18, 2007

    Boy! It doesn't take much to make him happy!

  • dianadarling Nov 18, 2007

    The Raleigh parade is ALWAYS the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The big question is why would DOT close 2 of the 3 lanes of I40 right by the DOWNTOWN exit the weekend 120,000 people are expected DOWNTOWN????

  • Jh5230 Nov 17, 2007

    This was so much fun, we really enjoyed it and thought it was nicely done. The parking was convenient, the maps were great and it was fairly easy to get situated. Finally, it had a nice "small town" feel to it.

    I loved it!