Raleigh, N.C. — Thousands of people lined the streets in downtown Raleigh Saturday morning to take in the WRAL-TV Raleigh Christmas Parade, the Triangle's annual kickoff event for the holiday season.
Presented by Shop Local Raleigh, the biggest parade between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta drew more than 50,000 people to the Fayetteville Street area. Attendees were greeted by sunshine and cool temperatures, as the mercury climbed from the mid-40s into the 50s as the parade snaked through downtown.
"This is one of the best things about the Triangle, right? It's this parade and coming downtown. It's very special," said Keith Poston, a spokesman for Time Warner Cable, one of the parade sponsors.
In its 68th year, the 2012 edition of the parade featured more than 115 entries, including fantastic floats, super-sized balloons, marching bands, entertainers, specialty vehicles and a special North Pole visitor.
The appearance of Santa inspired some parade-goers to share their Christmas wishes.
"I want a new Barbie doll," Madison George said.
"I want a new Northface jacket," said Hannah Philbeck.
"American Idol" contestant and North Carolina native Emily Minor served as the grand marshal, and WRAL-TV morning news personalities Bill Leslie, Kelcey Carlson and Brian Shrader hosted the festivities on television and WRAL.com.
Beginning at the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary's Street, the 1.2-mile parade course traveled east on Hillsborough Street, south on Salisbury Street, east on Morgan Street and down Fayetteville Street.
Participate in the parade: Whether you watched from the street, on TV, on the computer or some combination, we love to share the Christmas parade with you.
- Watch the 2012 WRAL-TV Raleigh Christmas Parade
- Follow Kelcey Carlson's parade coverage on Twitter
- Follow Bill Leslie's parade coverage on Twitter
- Report It: Share parade photos, video
Catch replays of the parade at 1 p.m. the first four Saturdays in December on WRAL2, plus a special holiday presentation on WRAL-TV at 4 p.m. on Christmas Day.