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WRAL Christmas Parade Lights up Downtown Raleigh

Santa made his usual holiday practice run through Raleigh on Saturday, as he headlined the WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade. But there were many new sights to see, including the route itself.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — 'Tis the season for holiday parades, and Christmas music was in the air as bands marched down Fayetteville Street for the first time in over 30 years.

Phylis Gill staked her spot early -- more than an hour and a half before the WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade started early Saturday afternoon. She was a little girl when the parade last went down Fayetteville Street in 1974.

"I just like celebrating on Fayetteville Street," Gill said. "It brings back a lot of memories."

From the State Capitol to the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, thousands of people lined the new route, on the ground and in the upper decks.

"You can see everything," said spectator Renauda Thompson. "You can see all the people watching and the parade at the same time."

The parade featured 114 bands and floats. And for the first time, giant balloons made their way through the streets of Raleigh.

"It's a lot harder than it looks, maneuvering around the lights," said balloon handler Carey Mathews.

The 62nd annual parade stretched 1.2 miles. With 60,000 people projected to attend, Raleigh's Christmas Parade is the biggest between Atlanta and New York.

Three familiar faces served as grand marshals for the Raleigh Christmas parade. Charlie Gaddy, Bobbie Battista and Bob DeBardelaben helped break in the new Fayetteville Street route. The WRAL-TV legends were helping the station celebrate its 50th anniversary.


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