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Christmas parade marks start of holidays

An estimated 60,000 spectators lined on the streets of downtown Raleigh under sunny but seasonably cool skies to cheer bands, floats and the arrival of Santa Claus.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The annual WRAL-TV Raleigh Christmas Parade marked the beginning of the holiday season Saturday.

An estimated 60,000 spectators lined the streets of downtown Raleigh under sunny but seasonably cool skies to cheer bands, floats and the arrival of Santa Claus.

“My parents wanted to take me so I could see what it's like to be out here and see Santa,” parade watcher Caleb Owens said.

“My precious little girl is waiting to see Santa Claus. She’s so excited,” parade watcher Elizabeth Harrison said.

The motorcycles, horses and color guard of the Raleigh Police Department led the way from the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary's streets at 9:30 a.m.

Almost two and a half hours later, Santa arrived in a swirl of snow provided by the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association.

Saturday was the 65th year of the parade.

WRAL-TV morning news anchors Bill Leslie and Kelcey Carlson hosted the broadcast of the parade, with street-side reporting from morning meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.

Raleigh’s parade featured more than 110 entries – from high school marching bands to floats to super-sized helium balloons.

“We get together, pile in the car, bring the kids down,” Raleigh resident Alex McCowan said. “(We) have a good time with the parade. The kids really enjoy it.”

Former Carolina Hurricanes player Glen Wesley served as grand marshal. It is the largest Christmas parade between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, drawing people from far and near.

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

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